Stop the gamification.

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In Halo 4 all sorts of unlockables were implemented. Some repeated since earlier installments, and a few additional new ones. These things include unlockable armour, emblems, weapons, perks and so on. The concept of enticing people to keep playing through simple, progressive systems like this is what the industry refers to as “gamification”.

It’s not the most effective way to keep people playing and it doesn’t make it more fun. People have completionist instincts and keep trying to achieve these arbitrary goals, which effectively keeps them doing things they don’t genuinly enjoy. It’s exploitation on a massive scale.

The Xbox has enough of this as it is. The achiement system was integrated into the 360 from the start, and that is mor than enough.

This next rather extensive section is the thoughts of one Dr. Ian Bogost, Game academic and Georgia tech professor. I offers good insight on the issue and denounces gamification as a concept.

– "In his short treatise On Bull -Yoink-, the moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt gives us a useful theory of bull -Yoink-. We normally think of bull -Yoink- as a synonym—albeit a somewhat vulgar one—for lies or deceit. But Frankfurt argues that bull -Yoink- has nothing to do with truth.

Rather, bull -Yoink- is used to conceal, to impress or to coerce. Unlike liars, bull -Yoink!- have no use for the truth. All that matters to them is hiding their ignorance or bringing about their own benefit.

Gamification is bull -Yoink-.

I’m not being flip or glib or provocative. I’m speaking philosophically.

More specifically, gamification is marketing bull -Yoink-, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bull -Yoink- already reigns anyway.

Bull -Yoink- are many things, but they are not stupid. The rhetorical power of the word “gamification” is enormous, and it does precisely what the bull -Yoink- want: it takes games—a mysterious, magical, powerful medium that has captured the attention of millions of people—and it makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.

Gamification is reassuring. It gives Vice Presidents and Brand Managers comfort: they’re doing everything right, and they can do even better by adding “a games strategy” to their existing products, slathering on “gaminess” like aioli on ciabatta at the consultant’s indulgent sales lunch.

Gamification is easy. It offers simple, repeatable approaches in which benefit, honor, and aesthetics are less important than facility. For the consultants and the startups, that means selling the same bull -Yoink- in book, workshop, platform, or API form over and over again, at limited incremental cost. It ticks a box. Social media strategy? Check. Games strategy? Check.

The title of this symposium shorthands these points for me: the slogan “For the Win,” accompanied by a turgid budgetary arrow and a tumescent rocket, suggesting the inevitable priapism this powerful pill will bring about—a Viagra for engagement dysfunction, engorgement guaranteed for up to one fiscal quarter.

This rhetorical power derives from the “-ification” rather than from the “game”. -ification involves simple, repeatable, proven techniques or devices: you can purify, beautify, falsify, terrify, and so forth. -ification is always easy and repeatable, and it’s usually bull -Yoink-. Just add points.

Game developers and players have critiqued gamification on the grounds that it gets games wrong, mistaking incidental properties like points and levels for primary features like interactions with behavioral complexity. That may be true, but truth doesn’t matter for bull -Yoink!-. Indeed, the very point of gamification is to make the sale as easy as possible.

I’ve suggested the term “exploitationware” as a more accurate name for gamification’s true purpose, for those of us still interested in truth. Exploitationware captures gamifiers’ real intentions: a grifter’s game, pursued to capitalize on a cultural moment, through services about which they have questionable expertise, to bring about results meant to last only long enough to pad their bank accounts before the next bull -Yoink- trend comes along.

I am not naive and I am not a fool. I realize that gamification is the easy answer for deploying a perversion of games as a mod marketing miracle. I realize that using games earnestly would mean changing the very operation of most businesses. For those whose goal is to clock out at 5pm having matched the strategy and performance of your competitors, I understand that mediocrity’s lips are seductive because they are willing. For the rest, those of you who would consider that games can offer something different and greater than an affirmation of existing corporate practices, the business world has another name for you: they call you “leaders.” " – Ian Bogost

The fact that you can’t use whatever weapon you want or identify your profile with whatever emblem you want does not help in maintaining the population as much as it repells newer players who just want to get on with playing the game. The game should sustain its player base by being fun, and if people don’t keep playing, that’s a strong indicator the game doesn’t deserve to.

CS is one of the games that has had a large population remaining to play it over an extended period of time, and it’s never had any unlockables or achievements other than on steam. Either way, I assure you that the achievments aren’t what’s kept it alive. It’s the fact that it is to this day still an enjoyable experience.

I think the gamification 343 have been up to is counterproductive and should cease shortly.

A video for the illiterate. (Ok fine; Or lazy)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWfMjQKXZXk

Well, its an interesting topic, I’ll give you that. I have personally enjoyed games that offer unlockables. I beat Halo 4’s campaign on Legendary, beat SpOPS on Legendary, and have reached SR130. Plus I have unlocked all the weapon skins (except Prime and Imprint), and have the majority of the armor unloced as well.

Unlockes in games make them more appealing to me, thats one of the reasons I could never get into CS, the points you listed above.

The “gamification” is also a big deal in BF3, There are over 80 weapons to unlock, vehhicle upgrades to unlock, BDUs to unlock, dog tags to unlock, co-op missions to unlock, weapon attachments and camouflages to unlock, and even more.

I’m Col.100 (max rank) with over 445 hours played (just in MP) and there is still more stuff for me to unlock. Not only do I have fun playing, but I also unlock stuff as an added bonus.

Plus, a new expansion is coming out this month (End Game) and that includes over 20 new items to unlock as well.

I see your points, but I know I enjoy unlockables along with many other gamers.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with unlockables if they’re done right.

The new Tomb Raider is a perfect example of doing it wrong. It’s supposed to be a survival story of a fragiel young girl but you’re getting exp unlocks for headshots and executions. The unlockables destroy the story.

In H4 I think they’re fine. They’re just tacked on to a not very fun game.

Didnt you know unlockables are more important then actual gameplay now. Honestly most games focus more on there unlockables to keep players playing then actually making sure the gameplay is fun and enjoyable.

> Didnt you know unlockables are more important then actual gameplay now. Honestly most games focus more on there unlockables to keep players playing then actually making sure the gameplay is fun and enjoyable.

Ummm. Yah, what he said… I think!

I didn’t realize Halo had a grad program…

Good thesis though.

"I didn’t realize Halo had a grad program…

Good thesis though."

Now that’s funny, lol.

The whole thing is an interesting, neutral read.

…And then you link a video for the, “illiterate.”

I love how the filter blocks -Yoink-, but not -Yoink- ters :smiley:

This was an interesting read

To stay relevant to the forum this is posted in, I’ll talk about Halo 4.

I like to unlock things in games. It’s a reward and rewards feel good to get. Yet I can see how gamification is both good and bad.

For example - XP rewards for using a specific type of weapon; lets say, precision loadout weapons.

Surely this encourages a higher than normal usage of these weapons from players trying to get the XP. This artificially changes the dynamics of the matches. Or, it could encourage selfish gameplay eg Kill stealing, from somebody who is desperate to get to the next specialization. The point is somewhere along the line these rewards must surely detract from the game because it encourages artificial behaviour from people who simply want to unlock something.

Now lets say the reward was time based. So instead of having to “kill 150 players with a precision loadout weapon” to earn 10,000 XP, the same XP could, in a time based system, be rewarded by simply having to play the game for a minimum 10 hours for the week.

With the time based approach, you are not artificially encouraging people to alter their style of play to earn a reward. You are simply rewarding them for just playing, and for playing without influencing HOW they play. In fact you are also encouraging them to just play the game. So long as people enjoy playing, you can develop more loyal customers, who are valuable for repeat business.

I think of it like this:

Rewarding players with XP for 150 headshots (for example)is like listing your business with Groupon. What you get is a tonne of people who just want the reward, but once they get it, are not likely to stick around. They will just latch on to the next reward, because that’s all they care about. This is of no long term benefit to the business, and in the short term, can disrupt the natural flow of a business. This can often make it unpleasant for customers, especially existing ones.

But a time based XP reward, as described above, is like a business who rewards their customers with a discount simply because they have been customers for a long time. So the business is not upsetting the natural flow of things. They’re just saying "thanks for playing, and sticking around. And unless your business (game) stuffs things up bad, these people are likely to stay. In theory.

I could go on, but hopefully I’ve explained how gamification can both hurt and help a game, even with these two brief examples.

This post has been edited by a moderator. Please do not create alternate accounts to bypass forum bans. Alternate accounts will be permanently banned, and offending users will be subject to both temporary and permanent bans.

*Original post. Click at your own discretion.

> The whole thing is an interesting, neutral read.
>
> …And then you link a video for the, “illiterate.”

Cool your beans. It’s sarcastic. I linked it for whomever that for whatever reason would prefer listening to someone speak about the subject, over reading two A4s. A TLDR of sorts.

This post has been edited by a moderator. Please do not create alternate accounts to bypass forum bans. Alternate accounts will be permanently banned, and offending users will be subject to both temporary and permanent bans.

*Original post. Click at your own discretion.

> I love how the filter blocks Yoink!, but not Yoink! ters :smiley:
>
> This was an interesting read
>
> To stay relevant to the forum this is posted in, I’ll talk about Halo 4.
>
> I like to unlock things in games. It’s a reward and rewards feel good to get. Yet I can see how gamification is both good and bad.
>
> For example - XP rewards for using a specific type of weapon; lets say, precision loadout weapons.
>
> Surely this encourages a higher than normal usage of these weapons from players trying to get the XP. This artificially changes the dynamics of the matches. Or, it could encourage selfish gameplay eg Kill stealing, from somebody who is desperate to get to the next specialization. The point is somewhere along the line these rewards must surely detract from the game because it encourages artificial behaviour from people who simply want to unlock something.
>
> Now lets say the reward was time based. So instead of having to “kill 150 players with a precision loadout weapon” to earn 10,000 XP, the same XP could, in a time based system, be rewarded by simply having to play the game for a minimum 10 hours for the week.
>
> With the time based approach, you are not artificially encouraging people to alter their style of play to earn a reward. You are simply rewarding them for just playing, and for playing without influencing HOW they play. In fact you are also encouraging them to just play the game. So long as people enjoy playing, you can develop more loyal customers, who are valuable for repeat business.
>
> I think of it like this:
>
> Rewarding players with XP for 150 headshots (for example)is like listing your business with Groupon. What you get is a tonne of people who just want the reward, but once they get it, are not likely to stick around. They will just latch on to the next reward, because that’s all they care about. This is of no long term benefit to the business, and in the short term, can disrupt the natural flow of a business. This can often make it unpleasant for customers, especially existing ones.
>
> But a time based XP reward, as described above, is like a business who rewards their customers with a discount simply because they have been customers for a long time. So the business is not upsetting the natural flow of things. They’re just saying "thanks for playing, and sticking around. And unless your business (game) stuffs things up bad, these people are likely to stay. In theory.
>
> I could go on, but hopefully I’ve explained how gamification can both hurt and help a game, even with these two brief examples.

Yeah, Fair deuce.

I mainly feel bothered by the fact that it’s an attempt to make people do things they wouldn’t normally want to do. It’s a bit of a moral issue to me. If people are grinding headshots or simply time only in order to receive an achievement or piece of armour and see the game only as an obstacle between them and their reward, you’re luring them into wasting thair valuable time on something they don’t take genuine interest in.

Tangible, expected, conditional rewards reduce free choice intrinsic motivation. It’s like a dog chasing a laser pointer. It’s just following its predator instincts and ends up empty handed every time.

However, verbal, unexpected, informational feedback increases free-choice and self-reported intrinsic motivation. If the game were to commend you on your actual achievement of being able to score a certain amount of points, or inform you when you break records, that would be truly motivating to the players. They would want to keep getting better at the game and thus be playing it for the sake of playing it rather than to be rewarded some pointless prize or “achievement”. It gives the act of playing purpose and meaning. This is what’s needed for a happy, maintained population in a game.

And besides, I don’t want to be forced to play for a week before I can use my preferred emblem. And the ones who used to be into the earlier ones will be demotivated to use those, which is a shame. I’m happy with my emblem and my mates recognise me by it in-game. It’s a shame to force me to change it. It just feels like such a forced and unnatural system. Makes me wonder if we’ll have to unlock directions to move, or the ability to shoot at all in the future, because it’s nearing that level of ridiculousness.

Someone on the same page as me, it would seem. Gamification or Instant Gratification ( I suspect these are one in the same) do very much kill some games.

Halo 4 is a very good example of this, unfortunately. Somewhere along adding load outs with unlock able weapons and perks then fun factor was lost and I highly doubt it was something 343 intended to do. Regardless of that it was the effect it brought.

Timeless games simply don’t need unlockables or at least not to the extent that Halo 4 does. The original trilogy fared fine with just unlock able armour and it’s remember ed as one of the finest trilogies ever made.

Of course it’s it’s not like gamification is anything new. I’ll point you to the direction of Metroid and Zelda, the NES games. Each one had a huge selection of unlock able tools and weapons as well as various inventory expansions.

All developers have done is taken that essence and applied it to the multiplayer games. Of course, it’s translated horribly. If anyone had fun getting FMJ kills in modern warfare 2 then i pity you. The means in which these items are unlocked is the problem, not the unlockables themselves.

If multiplayer games could find a way to offer unlockable items and weapons in a fun manner then that would be perfect. BUT THEY HAVE.

Once again i’ll use a Nintendo game as an example. Let’s look at Kid Icarus for the 3DS. The game is simple. You have a bunch of weapons with classes that fill various niches but heres the kicker, the weapons can be earned in the single player and used in the multiplayer. In the single player they are earned by playing on high difficulties and finding chests. You can also trade weapons with friends as well earn them in multiplayer.

Even the perks in the game have a fun twist to them. Each perk has a blocky shape. The stronger the perk the bigger and more awkward the shape. You can carry as many perks as you like but you have to fit them onto a grid. It’s all very reminiscent of tetris.

Innovation like this will be the saviour of instant gratification and unlockables but until other developers do this we’ll just have to grin a bear it.

This post has been edited by a moderator. Please do not create alternate accounts to bypass forum bans. Alternate accounts will be permanently banned, and offending users will be subject to both temporary and permanent bans.

*Original post. Click at your own discretion.

> Someone on the same page as me, it would seem. Gamification or Instant Gratification ( I suspect these are one in the same) do very much kill some games.
>
> Halo 4 is a very good example of this, unfortunately. Somewhere along adding load outs with unlock able weapons and perks then fun factor was lost and I highly doubt it was something 343 intended to do. Regardless of that it was the effect it brought.
>
> Timeless games simply don’t need unlockables or at least not to the extent that Halo 4 does. The original trilogy fared fine with just unlock able armour and it’s remember ed as one of the finest trilogies ever made.
>
> Of course it’s it’s not like gamification is anything new. I’ll point you to the direction of Metroid and Zelda, the NES games. Each one had a huge selection of unlock able tools and weapons as well as various inventory expansions.
>
> All developers have done is taken that essence and applied it to the multiplayer games. Of course, it’s translated horribly. If anyone had fun getting FMJ kills in modern warfare 2 then i pity you. The means in which these items are unlocked is the problem, not the unlockables themselves.
>
> If multiplayer games could find a way to offer unlockable items and weapons in a fun manner then that would be perfect. BUT THEY HAVE.
>
> Once again i’ll use a Nintendo game as an example. Let’s look at Kid Icarus for the 3DS. The game is simple. You have a bunch of weapons with classes that fill various niches but heres the kicker, the weapons can be earned in the single player and used in the multiplayer. In the single player they are earned by playing on high difficulties and finding chests. You can also trade weapons with friends as well earn them in multiplayer.
>
> Even the perks in the game have a fun twist to them. Each perk has a blocky shape. The stronger the perk the bigger and more awkward the shape. You can carry as many perks as you like but you have to fit them onto a grid. It’s all very reminiscent of tetris.
>
> Innovation like this will be the saviour of instant gratification and unlockables but until other developers do this we’ll just have to grin a bear it.

That’s an interesting point, the Zelda comparison. I did try to collect all the skulltulas back when I played it through initially, but as I wasn’t willing to replay segments or even the whole game in order to search for them more thoroughly, I obviously failed. The difference in this case however is that it’s merely a side objective, and actually a part of the game. You are actively looking for them, and that process is entertaining in and off itself.

> > Someone on the same page as me, it would seem. Gamification or Instant Gratification ( I suspect these are one in the same) do very much kill some games.
> >
> > Halo 4 is a very good example of this, unfortunately. Somewhere along adding load outs with unlock able weapons and perks then fun factor was lost and I highly doubt it was something 343 intended to do. Regardless of that it was the effect it brought.
> >
> > Timeless games simply don’t need unlockables or at least not to the extent that Halo 4 does. The original trilogy fared fine with just unlock able armour and it’s remember ed as one of the finest trilogies ever made.
> >
> > Of course it’s it’s not like gamification is anything new. I’ll point you to the direction of Metroid and Zelda, the NES games. Each one had a huge selection of unlock able tools and weapons as well as various inventory expansions.
> >
> > All developers have done is taken that essence and applied it to the multiplayer games. Of course, it’s translated horribly. If anyone had fun getting FMJ kills in modern warfare 2 then i pity you. The means in which these items are unlocked is the problem, not the unlockables themselves.
> >
> > If multiplayer games could find a way to offer unlockable items and weapons in a fun manner then that would be perfect. BUT THEY HAVE.
> >
> > Once again i’ll use a Nintendo game as an example. Let’s look at Kid Icarus for the 3DS. The game is simple. You have a bunch of weapons with classes that fill various niches but heres the kicker, the weapons can be earned in the single player and used in the multiplayer. In the single player they are earned by playing on high difficulties and finding chests. You can also trade weapons with friends as well earn them in multiplayer.
> >
> > Even the perks in the game have a fun twist to them. Each perk has a blocky shape. The stronger the perk the bigger and more awkward the shape. You can carry as many perks as you like but you have to fit them onto a grid. It’s all very reminiscent of tetris.
> >
> > Innovation like this will be the saviour of instant gratification and unlockables but until other developers do this we’ll just have to grin a bear it.
>
> That’s an interesting point, the Zelda comparison. I did try to collect all the skulltulas back when I played it through initially, but as I wasn’t willing to replay segments or even the whole game in order to search for them more thoroughly, I obviously failed. The difference in this case however is that it’s merely a side objective, and actually a part of the game. You are actively looking for them, and that process is entertaining in and off itself.

Thats my point exactly though. In Kid Icarus the Treasure Chests are hidden throughout the levels and you had to actively seek them out. This wouldn’t be hard to replicate on the xbox. Simple side quests littered throughout single player (or even spartan ops in Halos case) that will earn you these unlockables would be a great alternative. Honestly the two systems could even co-exist.

EDIT: Speaking of Ocarina of Time the side quests didn’t just involve skulltas. Did you ever manage to obtain the biggeron sword? These kinds of side objectives are littered throughout nintendo games. Beam combos in metroid prime and gold stars in mario. My idea is definitely viable.

I agree with OP. The first step for keep players playing is making a good game.
And for me Trials Evolution in the best example.
You have tracks Amateur or Extreme.
You have bronze silver gold and platinum medals.
You have easy bikes or hard bikes.
You have forge.
You have Leaderboards.

Trials is a very simple game, havent awesome graphics… but noobs or tryhards have fun, but isnt a “cheap” game… You need get better and better… You need keep playing hours and hours…
Old halos was the “Trials” of the FPS, you need anymore than a good connection… You need SKILL and get better and better, you need learn in theatre watching skillest players…
But now… Its dead. Halo is a game for kids unlocking colours for armours and weapons, full of cheaps kills… Halo is dead :frowning:

> In Halo 4 all sorts of unlockables were implemented. Some repeated since earlier installments, and a few additional new ones. These things include unlockable armour, emblems, weapons, perks and so on. The concept of enticing people to keep playing through simple, progressive systems like this is what the industry refers to as “gamification”.
>
> It’s not the most effective way to keep people playing and it doesn’t make it more fun. People have completionist instincts and keep trying to achieve these arbitrary goals, which effectively keeps them doing things they don’t genuinly enjoy. It’s exploitation on a massive scale.
>
> The Xbox has enough of this as it is. The achiement system was integrated into the 360 from the start, and that is mor than enough.

THIS IS EXACTLY RIGHT!

Take a game like Super Mario World for example, my favorite game of all time. I HAD to beat the game to completion, meaning complete all 96 exits and get all 5 Dragon Coins in every level. But the reason why it worked is because while you work your way through this, you get new content the entire time! As soon as you complete a level, or get all its coins, you didn’t have to tediously do it again, you move on to newer gameplay.

OP I also completely agree with you when you talk about the unlockable armor/emblems and such. As soon as you create tiers of starter vs. play 1000 hours just to use, you create arbitrary value for each armor piece or emblem. The blue visor in Halo 4 is assigned a value of zero, even though it might look the coolest with certain helmets/color schemes. So many people have no incentive to use “low value” items even if in their mind they have the highest aesthetic value.

> I mainly feel bothered by the fact that it’s an attempt to make people do things they wouldn’t normally want to do.

I first played Dominion because there was a daily challenge associated with that game type. And I liked it. Otherwise I had no interest in it.

So incentives can be used for good

The issue as I see it is when this incentivising influences how people play, and changes their motivations. But mostly, its annoying when it ruins MY experience

Eg boosters who are trying to master a weapon, and play with their friends in FFA can make a game unbearable

Actually, taking this further, I think there’s an irony to how some unlockables are handled in Halo 4.

This is a series that has taken pride in creating a ‘sandbox’ - a series that aimed to provide players with a non-linear experience that doesn’t force you down a scripted path or play a specific way (to the extent possible). Halo’s sandbox encouraged experimentation

Yet in Halo 4, with many unlockables, we are forced to use certain types of weapons to unlock them. This in turn is telling us “do THIS if you want to earn THIS”. In other words, the sandbox is there but we’re forcing restrictions on you for certain rewards.

Providing a sandbox environment, yet tying rewards to linear progression paths, seems counter-intuitive to me. It feels forced, as you mentioned before.

Huh. I guess I’d figured out the moral/philosophical issues with progression systems long ago. They do, after all, pander to some of the more base of human emotions and drives.

Anyhow, I view most progression systems as a stick and carrot approach. Meaning you have to get beat with a stick for a set number of pre-determined hours before you get your carrot. Then you get to do it all over again to get another carrot.

My big issue with most progression systems is that the focus is not on the actual gameplay, but the unlocks/progression. I don’t mind progression systems when the gameplay is actually enjoyable. When it’s tedious etc, then the whole thing is stick and carrot. Blah on that.

I liked the days back in the PS1/2/original Xbox time. I just didn’t see many games with a score board back then, it was like we had moved passed that and had matured. Then came the games with bonus stuff to unlock. The first one I noticed was Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance and you had “Koffins” to unlock… I hate that crap.

Then came the achievements on the 360, I don’t mind ones that are simple, that make sense like complete the game on whatever difficult.

But ones that involve something in the game like the ones that unlocked armour in Halo 3 multiplayer really bugged me. It promotes bad play and to me ruins the game. For example the Mongoose Mowdown one to unlock the Scout chest. Everyone was running around like loons in Lone Wolves for quite awhile. Just ruins the experience, well from my point of view. Halo 4 armour unlocks are just a bore…