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posted by mrpg on Thursday January 20, @05:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the read-three-more-stories-to-earn-a-virtual-taco!-(redeem-via-IRC) dept.

How 'Gamification' of Everything Is Manipulating You (and How to Recognize It):

“Gamification” is the practice of adding game-like elements to non-game contexts. It isn’t new, nor it is always a negative, but it is being aimed at consumers and employees more and more frequently, whether to keep you addicted to an app, motivated at work, or inclined to spend your money on something.

[...] There’s nothing necessarily wrong with making consuming a product or doing a job “fun,” but when marketers and employers are hacking our pleasure centers in ways we don’t fully recognize, that’s manipulation, and that’s not really a game. Below are some of the tricks of the gamification trade, so you can spot it before it happens to you.

Behaviorists’ studies of rats and humans prove that both species are more motivated by intermittent, unpredictable rewards than anticipated ones. Rats will pull the lever more often if they sometimes get a food pellet than if they always get a food pellet, and gamblers would never play a slot machine that returned 89 cents every time they put in a dollar, even though that’s what will happen over time.

Some of the tricks are: Variable rewards and suspense, Manipulating our desire for progress, and Engagement and “streaks”.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @02:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @02:07AM (#1214426)

    I first heard the term, 'gamification,' from John Romero in some interview. I don't equate, 'gamification,' with dopamine circuit manipulation.

    I first learned from Robert Sapolsky that the dopamine circuit is not a, 'reward,' circuit; but, rather a, 'motivational/anticipatory,' circuit. It was always hypothesized that dopamine had something to do with rewarding an organisms behavior because of mouse experiments and drugs; but, those mice were basically being tortured. I think it's called, 'rat park,' experiment. When they treated the rats like actual living creatures, they really had more or less a chance of becoming habituated to the intake of a particular substance.

    However, if you are a company, and you want to make a profit, it would probably not be hard to devise a way to create the, 'slot machine,' experience. Give a small reward, at random, intermittently, and infrequently, and you'll drive up the motivation.

    If you've ever been on the, 'Twitch,' platform, watching people do their thing, you'll notice that little gift box under the chat that twitches every now and then and turns green, so you can get channel points. lol. THAT is exactly what they are doing, gaming your dopamine circuit.

    Gamification, to me, is more about making something engaging. Like a science chemistry class, for example, could be really, really, boring and tedious; but, the right kind of teacher who can, 'game it up in there,' a bit, could stand to really engage their students, to the benefit of all.

    What the slutlords are doing is called, 'casinofication,' ie: loot boxes, points, etc.. etc..

    The ancestor to casinofication was probably MMORPG's that you could level your character to level 90 by spending literally 6 gaming months on a character; that was definitely a way to keep that monthly subscription money coming in; but, that's arguably more just offering the customer an alternate world to live in, on the cheap; which, could be good or bad, depending on how you approach it.

    Anandamide is probably more related to the reward circuit. However, it's doubtful anything is really quite so simple; everything is probably very interconnected up there...