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Gamification fails if we stop being playful

By on November 10, 2010
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Michael French alerted me to this wonderful slide deck from Sebastian Deterding. I feared it was going to be a GamaSutra-reader style rant against casualisation, socialisation or the ending of the hegemony of self-appointed “hardcore gamers”.


In fact, it was quite the reverse. A thoughtful run through why gamification is too simplistic, and in places misguided. Sebastian doesn’t argue the gamification is pointless. He does argue that we should watch for:

  • Unintended consequences (encouraging people to aim for the target, not the objective)
  • Removing the element of mastery from gaming (without which there is no long-term engagement)
  • Turning play into work (i.e. a total reversal of what gamification is trying to achieve)

It is a great presentation. I urge you to read it.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
  • Marcel Duceau

    There’s a good discussion about gamification benifits/drawbacks and game mechanics in general on

  • I agree it’s quite similar to Margaret’s excellent post. But I think Sebastian has moved the thinking further forward. Margaret’s was just the opening salvo in the way to make gamification-thinking become more sophisticated. Sebastian was the next wave of artillery fire.
    (I think that metaphor got away from me)

  • Daniel Kromand

    This presentation is somewhat similar to an article on Kotaku (, but the author seems to be different.
    Good read both.