Earlier this year I attended the Gamification Summit in NYC, after seeing a small presentation by the Gamification Guru himself, Gabe Zichermann – @gzicherm, at the OSCON event in Portland.
So what is gamification.
Well, it’s a package of a lot of things you probably already know, but the semi-official definitions:
Gamification is the integration of game mechanics or game dynamics into a website, service, community, campaign, or application in order to drive participation and engagement. …
(Gamify) To incorporate fun game-play elements into a website that attempt to drive participation in an activity by providing reward and motivation for doing so.
The art and science of using game mechanics in non-game businesses to increase efficiency, customer loyalty and engagement.
Think of this in terms of Status, Achievement, Power, Stuff. Every one of these elements exist in open source, for its self selected community.
Back in the ’90′s, I often got asked by CxO types, “Who pays for Linux?”. The answer I coined in 95 is that Linux is funded by ego-dollars, the awarded status of contributing to Linux. We’ve had developer status for more than a decade, we recognize achievement for (usually) developers.
Note the elements bolded above (bolds are mine).
Open source is both viewed as very successful in terms of adoption, and also very limited in adoption in certain areas of interest. Think open source items like Apache, Eclipse, Webkit. But then think of items like Linux desktop use, a topic I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to understand.
Gabe’s presentation says it better, but here’s a summary.
Open source does not make it easier for a non-technical user to embrace.
Open source goes out of its way to empower technical users/developers.
Open source adoption (editor: for desktops) could be massively accelerated if it became more “fun”.
Now, whether you agree or not, it is true that making use of applications can be challenging, even daunting. Too often I hear the mantra “I put someone on Linux”. I also hear the user mantra “I tried to use something and it started asking for things I’ve never heard of”. Maybe this is the intent, since it certainly leads to the potential commercialization of good and popular projects.
Some projects do a good job. Most don’t. Think about such spaces as GitHub, SourceForge, etc. Go do a search for personal finance and look at it as if you aren’t a coder/developer.
Anyway, I’d enjoy thoughts on the Gamification space and how you’d like to see open source engage with the vast majority.