Practicalities and objectives rule over semantics

Allocating meaning to words is always fun, especially when it comes to new words and terminology. Gamification is a case in point, the definition has been debated at great length and can still flare up on occasion in gamification circles. Some buyers in the corporate market are uncomfortable with the term gamification still to this day. Personally, I have always said, call it what you want to call it as long as you understand that our source engagement techniques come from game psychology and games of all kinds.

Recently I saw another debate emerging where game mechanics became the topic of debate. Apart from thinking, not another futile effort in semantics, it became something along the lines of what is a game mechanic and what is game dynamic implying that it was a consequence of the game mechanic. Anyway, I won’t repeat the debate here. For purists, there is always something to debate about. What is important I find is finding ways to apply them to achieve good results.

The thing is gamification brings skills in from a number of areas. Game design is the obvious one, user experience another and a lot of behavioural psychology. In all of these fields, there are debates about some definition of a term or other. As a buyer of gamification design services all we look for is that you are at the minimum open for the results it can bring and in an ideal world, you like to play along with our terminology although if you have major issues with the terms we will adapt.

In our projects, we often have to pivot between different terms and different suppliers based on the client’s objectives for a project, their current way of working and their respective budget. Rarely is it a debate about are we talking about a game mechanic or a game dynamic. Most often the question is “how will we reach the desired result with what we have”.

Defining the objectives and designing a solution based on what the client currently has in place is our core work. It is rare after we have started the project and defined the actions that the words themselves start tripping the project up. More likely there are changes or technology hurdles to work with, defining what constitutes a significant scope change is probably a more common problem that the name we gave things. I like to focus on what is important for the client and work from there, I leave terminology and semantic debates to those, who have the time to amuse themselves at that level.



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