We're hearing a lot about gamification over the past few years. Whether for or against, I can't help but feel like there's a nuanced middle-ground. It's just another method of communication, administration or education that can be implemented carelessly or thoughtfully. When done carelessly, it feels like Tom Sawyer convincing Huck to paint a fence. An insincere ruse, y'know?

That's pretty much my only statement on the matter for now, but I was curious what the opposite of gamification would be. Workification? How would you define it? I posed this question to my tweeps. Here are there responses:

@DanielSolis game mechanics that are so heavy and/or require you to do something too similar to actual work? #madethisupless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@DanielSolis Halo 3 on Legendary. Achievements that require grinding up to a huge number. Shadowrun character creation.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

@DanielSolis Applying work processes - like paperwork and accounting and inventory management - to games, to make them less engaging.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@DanielSolis Turning play into an obligation. Professional gambling, pro sports, most MMORPGs' griding after the initial fun bits, etc.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

@DanielSolis Gamification adds rewards. Workification avoids rewards.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

» Image: Attribution Non-commercial Share-Alike license by sAeroZar


  1. I'm surprised how most of those definitions are negative or, at best, neutral. That "work" is a pejorative is one of the things that gamification attempts to address.

    So turning that around and addressing the pejorative of "game", how about: "Applying productivity to leisure or passive activities."

    This seems like a challenge that parents constantly face.

  2. The X beyond the Frontier games (and to an extent trader campaigns in Traveller that inspired them), LOTS of European heavy strategy PC games, the mid-late game of civilization... yeah, lots of times when I've stopped and thought "You know what, I've paid for this and it should be the other way around, screw this".

    Where this is negative is where "work" is divorced from "craft", the idea of effort invested to produce something worthwhile, even if that thing is the experience of investing focussed, skilled effort.

    WHich I'm guessing is the point at which gamification and workification hit a sweet spot.

  3. Oh yeah, bad workification: 90% of the facebook social games I've seen. "Click here 900 times, share with your friends, get a cruddy bitmap on your profile, WIN!"

  4. I find workification a funny word! I was laughing hard at the initial responses. I totally agree with both kenkins and Pete regarding the negatives and positives balancing out.

    The grind in games make it work. Profit from virtual gold farming also make it work.

    On a positive note, I've used spreadsheets when playing EVE online. Calculators have been coded for casual games such as Caesary. A custom card designer is available for Elements The Game. These are just a few examples of game workification, which I believe serve to enrich the gaming experience.

    Gamification aims to enrich Real Life by using game dynamics and fun to engage its unmotivated players. The sweet spot is @avantgame winning the Nobel Peace Price.

  5. Workification would involve producing something that is a real world product or result.

  6. It would be awesome to find a game... that had been subjected to workification that resulted in a producing a real world product or result... like that the is supposed to come from work. How fun would that be!

  7. There are a couple experiments with that, like the games where you help bio-labs by playing a puzzle game where you put together protein chains. I can't recall the results of that experiment, but it was a cool idea.

  8. I guess the real difference is whether it's work you're doing in the service of something you enjoy already.


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