Gamification: What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”  Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, scene 2)

Mr. Shakespeare believes that a name is just a name. Me, not so much.

I believe that words and names are infused with connotations and under-currents. For instance, I’m addicted to old movies – particularly witty comedies from the 1930s with sparkling dialogue. One of the most common phrases? “We’re so happy and gay!” Does that sentence mean the same thing in 2012 America as it did in 1930 America?

Gamification: what’s in a name? In this case, a lot!

Here are some synonyms for game (from thesaurus.com):

Noun meaning entertainment:

Amusement, distraction, diversion, festivity, frolic, fun, jest, joke, lark, merriment, pastime, play, recreation, romp

Noun meaning plot or trick:

Device, hoax, joke, object of ridicule, ploy, practical joke, prank, scheme, stratagem

Each time you use the word gamification, it’s a pretty sure bet that your audience has at least one of these alternative meanings running through their conscious or sub-conscious.

Is it any wonder the C-suite tunes out when they hear “gamification”?

Don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that the principles of gamification are valuable in driving learning, learning transfer, and engagement.

I say let’s call a rose a rose! We want to engage people, encourage participation, apply knowledge, challenge learners. Why not call it Applied Challenges, Engaged Participation, Application?

Anyone else?

About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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