I found Man’s article to be very interesting. I had no idea that gamification even existed before reading these articles and I think it makes a lot of sense. People get addicted to games (personally, I’ve been stuck on Tetris since the black and white GameBoy days) and a recent phenomenon has been the addiction to social media. When you combine the two the results can be deleterious to a person’s spare time. According to the article, “Gamification is the use of game mechanics to boost interest in non-game applications” (Zichermann, 2010). An example of this can be found in Foursquare where the object of the application is to check in to different locations that you visit, and if you check in the most out of anyone, you become the mayor of that location. The best part about Foursquare is that you do not merely become the virtual mayor of the location, but the venue may also provide discounts or promotional offers to that person in the flesh. This is one way that gamification is making its way off the screen of it’s mobile devices/ computers, etc. and actually having monetary value in the real world without having to spend a dime.
The concept of Facebook itself could even be considered to be a game when you really think about it. As Man writes about in his article, the thrill of adding “friends” and seeing how popular your page gets is a game in itself. Many people want to have more “friends” on Facebook than others so that they can get more likes on their posts and pictures. The same goes for Instagram for the iPhone. I see so many people I know adding random strangers just so they could get more “likes” on their pictures. I don’t know about you, but I would rather limit my followers to people I actually know than to boost my social presence via social media, or as Man puts it, “social prestige”.
Appointment dynamics, progression dynamics, and virality are all tactics to get players to keep coming back for more. Appointment dynamics has been used in games like FarmVille where if they did not make it back on Facebook in time to feed their crops or whatnot they will be punished, and if they do make it on time, they will be rewarded. This is one way that Man says gamification is “enslaving it’s players.” Progression dynamics “is a game with only advancements but no goal” (p 9). This is where we see the gamification qualities of Facebook where you can keep adding and adding “friends” but no specific reward or goal will be achieved. Unless, of course, you make a goal for yourself to add 1000 friends in a month or something of the like. Virality is the “encouragement of expanding the network for reward” (p 10). This is when the game will only let you advance (or will advance faster) if you invite your friends to join and play the game as well. This both makes the game more popular, which is good for the company, but also makes the game more fun for the player because they can now interact with their friends through yet another mediated medium.
Tanz’s article, The Curse of the Cow Clicker, was a little confusing to me. I really cannot wrap my mind around how people could sit at their computers and just click on cows. There really is no point, and the creator, Bogost, admits that.
Social games are of the most popular recently because they create a sense of community between players. We are seeing this type of virality everywhere from games on Facebook, to game apps on the iphone and so on. Competing against real people you interact with face to face on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis makes it feel more real. I hear people all the time say, “I haven’t talked to so and so in a while, but I’ve been (insert popular game or app)-ing them recently.” Social games create a sense of community for people even if they haven’t seen the person they are interacting with in a long time, just as Facebook and other social networking sites have the same effect and that is what makes players keep coming back for more.