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Gamification Summit 2011: Big themes from the inaugural event

Last week, the first-ever Gamification Summit took place in San Francisco. Around 400 people showed up to the sold-out event and heard industry insiders talk about what’s bound to be one of the hottest topics in 2011-- using game-like elements to make everyday life and consumer experiences more compelling.

Last week, the first-ever Gamification Summit took place in San Francisco. Around 400 people showed up to the sold-out event and heard industry insiders talk about what’s bound to be one of the hottest topics in 2011-- using game-like elements to make everyday life and consumer experiences more compelling.

Just back from CES, I was stuck in NYC and had to watch the action unfold via Twitter, using the hashtag #gsummit. It was a change of pace following the show via Twitter (I’m usually one of the people at the conference churning out Tweets like there’s no tomorrow), and while watching the feed of information on my Web browser, several themes emerged over the two days of the conference. First, ‘Gamification’ as a concept is still largely undefined; second, people still grasping at figuring out how and when Gamification actually works; and third,  the concept of Gamification is surprisingly polarizing. I’ve called out several Twitter posts from the show for each of these emerging themes.

Gamification is still undefined:

@ChiefDoorman: We as an industry are trying to figure out what gamification means  #gsummit

mleg:o2 #gsummit The word "game", just like "love", is loaded. Have to wait for right time to say it. Hard to take it back.

AdenaDeMonte: ok, i don't love the term "gamification" but it's better than edutainment and advertainment. :) #gsummit

avantgame: gamification is making something look like a game, gamefulness is making something feel like a game. #gsummit

@HollywoodPlayer: Content.community.commerce. Gamification is glue to tie them all together. #gsummit

@tapjoy: At #gsummit today. The driving principle? Gamification is about so much more than game mechanics. It's about designing great experiences.

Caesar_X: While dust settles from the "gamification" term debate, the wise people will be busy implementing solutions. #gsummit

How and when does Gamification work:

Gamesresearch: Idea at Gamification Summit #gsummit: Don't exploit users by awarding points if they spam their social network friends about your product.

Gamesresearch: Idea at Gamification Summit #gsummit: We are productive when playing games and that is enjoyable.

openupandsay: Every time I see badges, I can't help but think Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Did these associations understand gamification first? #gsummit

nickkellet: Are we the rewarding the wrong behaviors? Is gamification distracting from core business value? consumer centric?#justsaying #gsummit

@rwang0: 5 engagement models for Gamification: intrigue, reward, status, community, challenge http://bit.ly/fcc03g (expand) #gsummit #socbiz

@gzicherm: "Old loyalty programs: "buy now" and then engagement. New gamified loyalty: "like first" (engagement) followed by "buy" #gsummit

@Gamification: The production of gamification will reach $1.6 billion by 2015 via @wandameloni at #gsummit - slides: http://ow.ly/3HkCa

@joshshabtai Modcloth.com, boardgamegeek.com and Quora cited as gamified experiences that are satisfying games in of themselves. #gsummit

@topguest alludes to points fatigue. Hope we explore this topic further: pts, badges, leaderboards do not make a game. #gsummit

gsummit2011: @ChiefDoorman: With no community, many relavant pieces of gamification fall flat #gsummit

Gamification is polarizing:

@tomhigley: "Games are no longer an escape from reality. They're adding to our real lives. They support our real-life goals." Jane McGonigal #gsummit

@gzicherm: "Gamification is our last best hope for obesity, education, government" #gsummit

@ibogost I'd be less sardonic about #gamification if it were just framed as an evolution of loyalty programs. #gsummit

@stewtopia Crappy buzzword showdown - Which is worst - edutainment, advergaming or gamification? #gsummit

@hrfuturist Gamficiation is not the new thing. Social identity is? But what is the MOTIVATION for the user? #gsummit

The conclusion? Even though gamification as a concept has been around for years, in many ways it’s still takings its first steps. It has taken this long for people to understand that properly using simple game mechanics can make the world a better (or at least, a more engaging) place, but I suspect this conference has set the tone for 2011, which will largely be about defining what gamification means as an industry and how and if it can become meaningful to everyone involved.