Gamification Course - 6,000

There are a LOT of discussion boards.  I chose only one to follow so that I could experience a discussion board in a class with 71,000 students from 147 countries.   The board I chose to follow is “Is Gamification Unethical?”  You may recall that I posted on this topic in this blog.  I posted a similar statement in that discussion board, and received a couple of replies.

The range of sub-topics within this discussion board is insightful.  It seems that many discussion board participant believe that gamification is unethical.  Sub-topics revolve around:

  • games for profit
  • the ethics of profit
  • the ethics of marketing
  • gamification to manipulate behaviors is like selling drugs
  • the ethics of gamifying education and business (internal focus and external business focus)
  • making experiences fun is not unethical
  • when profit is the motive then gamification is unethical

Those are the themes I recall; there were SO. MANY. POSTS.

The major themes seem to be:

  • Gamification makes activities fun and there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Gamification is a form of manipulation and manipulation is evil.
  • Gamification for profit is wrong.

And to me, the underlying idea behind these posts is that a person who is exposed to a gamified process has no choice over their actions in the process, including the choice to participate.  There’s no free will once a system or process has been gamified.  I thought games were all about choice and free will participation, so wouldn’t gamification be, too?

What are your thoughts? Does gamification assume that the target audience loses his or her choice to participate?   If you decide to gamify a class or topic or some part of the educational process, are you limiting student choice in a negative way?