Many survey participants remarked that gamification is a “passing fad,” including technology consultant Stowe Boyd, who went on to explain that it is only “of interest to a small segment of the social tools developer community.” Boyd predicted: “In some segments it will have a long-term impact, but only in circumstances where it is integral, and not as a gloss or veneer. Much of what gamification seeks to do—to increase involvement, and foster certain collective behaviors in groups of people—actually runs counter to the fragmentation of user experience online. The rise of apps means that users are spreading their time out over a larger number of more specialized tools, and tool developers try to counter that through inducements to stay, or return frequently, and to align activities with others: a forced viralization. A much more profitable set of ideas? As people are made more autonomous, they naturally move away from collaboration, where users share the same aims and reward systems—toward cooperation—where users do not necessarily share long-term goals or values. Gamification has little use in cooperation, and that is the area of social software that is least realized at this time, and which I predict will be the highest-growth area in the future.”
Buzzmachine blogger Jeff Jarvis, director of the entrepreneurial journalism program at City University of New York, wrote, “Gamification is overblown, but that could simply be because I am not a gamer. Angry Birds was fun while it lasted, but it didn’t change my life.” Freelance writer and editor Glyn Moody agreed, “As its absurd name suggests, ‘gamification’ is little more than the buzzword du jour: It’s the ‘push technology’ of 2011.”
Sandra Braman, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an expert on information policy, said a lot of energy will be invested in embedding game principles across more human activities between now and 2020, but she expects uneven results. “For all of the reasons that critics of game theory have identified over the years regarding its inability to capture the full range of human motivations, perceptions, cognitions, and practices, I believe there will be efforts to gamify much of what we do, but that much of that will just come and go as fads,” she wrote.
An anonymous respondent agreed, writing, “Gamification and social structures will be seen as a ‘fad,’ experience, burn out, and then fall out of favor in the next ten years, except with certain segments of the population. I doubt it will make huge inroads with ‘serious’ fields like K-12 education, work and career, or the health industry.”
Rich Osborne, senior IT innovator at the University of Exeter, expects that gamified approaches, while getting a fair amount of publicity today, are likely to be contained to about the same level of engagement as they have had in the past in different forms. “‘Gamification’ is little more than a fad,” he said. “There may be areas where virtual simulation can add an extra dimension that can enhance a human experience in otherwise impossible ways, and this may indeed be linked to ‘gamification’ concepts, but games and gaming have been part of the bigger human experience for far too long to expect some sort of (relatively speaking) immediate and radical change.”
Barry Parr, owner and analyst for MediaSavvy, asked, “Remember back in the 2010s when we thought gamification was going to change everything? What were we thinking?”