Gamification is really trendy these days and it makes me so happy. It just shows how game ignorance has decreased over the years, over the world and game loving is growing, growing, growing. Wonderful.A few years ago, I remember marketing departments were “making the most” out of gamification. Fortunately, they’ve managed to make it look ridiculous so that trend faded away. Now it’s education that seems to place its bets on games and what a glorious day this is. However, dear teachers, be careful cause these lands of games are full of dangers! And your students have way more spare time than you do, so beware, beware, they know EVERYTHING!As I mentioned in the title, this post is not about how to do gamification right (this might take more than an article), but how to not do it wrong. So let’s start with a fine piece of game dev rage to get into that energy: In his short treatise On Bullshit, the moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt gives us a useful theory of bullshit. We normally think of bullshit as a synonym—albeit a somewhat vulgar one—for lies or deceit. But Frankfurt argues that bullshit has nothing to do with truth.Rather, bullshit is used to conceal, to impress or to coerce. Unlike liars, bullshitters have no use for the truth. All that matters to them is hiding their ignorance or bringing about their own benefit.Gamification is bullshit.I’m not being flip or glib or provocative. I’m speaking philosophically.More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.Bullshitters are many things, but they are not stupid. The rhetorical power of the word “gamification” is enormous, and it does precisely what the bullshitters want: it takes games—a mysterious, magical, powerful medium that has captured the attention of millions of people—and it makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.Game developers and players have critiqued gamification on the grounds that it gets games wrong, mistaking incidental properties like points and levels for primary features like interactions with behavioral complexity. That may be true, but truth doesn’t matter for bullshitters. Rage source: http://bogost.com/writing/blog/gamification_is_bullshit/ This is old and intense, but can you read a bit through the lines? There is still some truth in there. Some do slap point systems on boring programs and expect people, especially young people to go crazy over them. What makes me really sad is that sometimes it works. Because if you’re some cool brand and award students phones if they “play” through your thing, who knows, they might, cause phones are nice, right?As a person who loved, fought, flyed and died endless times in games, hearing people talk about how gamification can make their boring app cool makes me think oh really? hihihAs a game designer who understands how hard it is to make a game, not to mention a good game, it makes me laugh hysterically, seriously.Because we build these worlds and paint them with our dearest fantasies and we crush our brains to make them logical, functional, fair, profitable and take this one: FUN. And we fail miserably and we get to hate each other in the process, but you know what? We make games. And people love games.Are you, by any chance, making game design sound trivial when you say you’re making your app/website/course better with gamification? Please don’t. Moving on from the rage, here are some tips to consider before trying to turn your anything into a game: Games are worlds of intrinsic fun. We play to win and level up! And by that I mean closed systems with rules that determine how the objects inside them behave. Players included.Some are very simple, some are very complex. Some make use of real life elements. BUT, they are worlds in their own rights. There is a clearly defined reality: What can/cannot happen in this world?There is a clearly defined behaviour: What I can/cannot do in this world? If you want to make your classroom playful, first make sure that you have defined your world, its rules, its exceptions and everyone is aware of them. To put this shortly, I am happy to get a reward after I slay the dragon because that reward will make me stronger which will allow me to slay a bigger dragon. The reward is a step forward, not the reason I’m playing. This one is crucial to understand especially in educational systems. Phones are not good rewards in this case because guess what, phones don’t make students crave more courses. Also, if your students are playing just to get a passing grade, you are failing again. This win can be hanging out with friends, being the first to finish the game or just getting to drive a tank. This creates goals, efficient behaviours, inefficient behaviours and, most importantly, the concept of losing. Goals are useful to time frame game sessions, another very important aspect in learning. Efficient behaviours should feel nice, talking about that intrinsic reward.Inefficient behaviours should be forgivable, BUT punished! Don’t be dramatic, but make punishment visible, easy to understand and well, painful enough to matter. Losing is as well a versatile concept; losing time is very painful nowadays so use this to your advantage. Think about time when you define how to lose in the game to determine how painful it will be. They are indeed the bread and butter of many types of games and most likely you will want to have some sort of progress in your thing.But don’t expect a progression system to turn your website into a game. Levels are like the floor numbers in a building; they don’t make climbing the stairs easier, they don’t turn on the lights and for sure they don’t help you avoid the neighbors. They’re just saying way to go buddy, you’ve reached the 7th floor. Yes they are better when they unlock things. At level 16 there’s an elevator. Or when they reward things. At level 21 there’s pizza. But they are not games and they won’t make you a game just because. I will leave it here, this is getting too long to read. But yes, make gamification if you think your target is fit for it. Just make it fun, make it playable, make it an experience and dare to define it as a world for people to explore and play.