Gabe Zichermann is one of the leading voices in the gamification context. Zichermann approaches gamification as a marketing tool, a strategy to create affiliation with customers and grow a business. In other words, not really a ‘purely academic’ approach, but his presentation is very interesting to understand how the concept of gamification is used and understood in different contexts. The marketing field is, in any case, probably the most authoritative voice so far in providing definitions of ‘gamification’ (whether we like it or not!), and although some of these definitions might appear very surface-level understandings of the issues at stake in the process of ‘gamifying’ a practice or activity, they are nonetheless the most precise attempts so far to outline what gamification is, and is not. Zichermann provides tutorials and workshops, some of them available online. The main event he organises is the Gamification Summit (next edition in San Francisco, CA, 16-18 April 2013).
In this web seminar he proposes some interesting approaches to the concept. I think the most relevant is the teleological social narrative of gamification as the result of a collective tendency towards multitasking. Zichermann proposes to look at the new generations as capable of approaching complex systems of information with relative ease. Gamification is allegedly stepping in this process and proposing a system where managing information is also ‘fun’. In this context, and that’s the second most interesting point of his presentation (in my opinion), ‘fun’ is not a blurry undefined concept but is instead a biological process. Fun is dopamine, which is released by our brain when rewarded by achieving a task. Dopamine is the key of gamification (and also the name of Gabe Zichermann’s agency). I think what we can take from Zichermann is this discursive justification of gamification as a historical/biological consequence of already existing processes.
Gamification of Marketing Webinar with Gabe Zichermann