I am out in Fog City, San Francisco, at the Gamificatin Summit. In the Advance Workshop Gabe Zichermann presented to a sold out audience. He is able to combine different perspectives on gamification: strategic, operational, and psychological.
Gamification, the core of a good game, is about uncovering what is meaningful. Combining desire and mastery. The job of as game designer or designer of gamified systems is to break down the process of continuing engaging people as they move from novice, problem solver, expert, master, and visionary.
It is tempting to design games and gamefied systems solely for the achiever types of player. The problem of overdesigning for this personality type is that not everyone can win and if you try to widen the winners circle you lose the sense of a authentic win. Moreover there are many more people who aren’t achievers, such as explorers. Explorers help your community drive their understanding of the system. Social games are the dominate form of game design, most games are social games, and are a catalyst for meaningful social interaction. No product has ever failed for being too authentically social.
Zichermann did a deep dive looking at extreme couponing as a game. That lens opens interesting lines of questions such as “Did the supermarkets and brands design the eldergame incorrectly?”
Money is a weak motivator, becoming predictable and a boring reward. If you design the reward architecture of a game properly, the net result will be that the players will view the system as a very interest system (because you know the players and what they find fun.)