Born in the late 70s, I grew up surrounded by comics, literature and the cinema mythos of the 80s. These are images that powerfully call my attention. Maybe your attention too :D.
One these cool scenes happens when the hero, confident in his abilities, attacks his nemesis with a blow that he believes unbeatable or deploys a strategy that (he thinks), will give him the final victory against the terrible enemy.
After receiving the hit, the opponent rises from the ashes (preferably with an evil laugh) and thunders:
"Is that the best you got?"
Besides an obvious homage to Campbell's Hero's Journey ... What all this has to do with gamification?
While writing the post about 2015predictions a couple of weeks ago, I began to reflect on the community of gamification professionals and how we could be perceived by society and potential customers. I was surprised to discover that one of the most visible landmarks for the measurement of the value added by each member of the community, and perhaps the only "official" international reference we had today, is Rise’smonthly ranking (ex leaderboarder) under the unfortunate (in my opinion) "gamification gurus " name.
What is the purpose of that ranking, I wonder? Highlight those members who contribute most to the community? Increase the visibility of a company? Encourage competition, and thus a larger quantity of content (regardless quality, maybe)? The truth os, I have not arrived to a clear conclusion, even after reading the header that explains the ranking.
"Gamification Gurus" Ranking - January 2015
At first glance it seems a bit unbalanced ranking when weighting quantity vs quality (with the first term ahead from the latter one): Quote a phrase from someone or give your own opinion is equally rated, if associated with the hashtag #gamification. Writing the same post in English and Spanish (as I do) counts twice, even if obviously doesn’t double the corpus of knowledge of the community, or my value as professional.
Even more, from a competitive point of view (which appears to be the ranking’s core mechanic)… Could it arrive the point were my decision to give visibility to the ideas, tweets or posts of other professional depend not so much on the intrinsic value of the idea by itself, but on its proximity to my position in the ranking, and the perceived danger associated at losing positions? If you think this is a crazy idea and it couldn’t happen, pleaseremember what happened in the ranking for “the most influential gamification professional”organized by GSummit and the criticism that hindered its reliability and value (beyond the rightness or not of the topic).
In addition, rankings are not only a tool for social comparison. They can be an excellent way to self-assess our performance against our own past behaviour, regardless of the other people involved at the ranking. But that requires a key element: measurable and understandable dimensions.
Perhaps the ranking suffers from excessive functionality, or it does not own an attractive GUI. Maybe the measured dimensions or the assigned weights are not adequate (youtube views did not appear at the ranking measures until recently) or they are not as precise or clear as they should. I encourage you to try to calculate manually your score at the ranking or compare it with other members.
Either way, it is clear that this design could be useful for other things, but not as a facilitator of individual progress for someone who is not a full-blooded “killer”: variability between each measurement point (month to month) is so high that participation becomes a rollercoaster ride experience, rather than a process of controlled progression. Maybe regulatory mechanisms for managing disproportionate monthly variations are in order, for example by changing the frequency of measurement or including corrective factors to take into account the overall performance will be appreciated.
Or maybe it's just me. I'm doing a misreading, asking for the impossible. This ranking is perhaps not the tool to measure the health of a professional community and the way to identify the most valuable members of it. Maybe it's just a popularity contest, where the winner is the best community manager of your own personal (gamified) brand.
Let me clarify something very important: What I am criticizing here is not the team behind the creation of the ranking nor am I denying the value of people who are (myself included) in the top positions. Toby Beresford, who I had the fortune to meet in the last Gamification World Congress, is a open-minded professional, concerned as everyone about the development of the gamification community and very responsive to any proposals for improvement. Andrzej and Yu-kai Chou are two excellent professionals whose contributions have brought value to the community beyond any other one.
I'm just thinking that the ranking requires a few iterations (those I proposed here, and others) to meet all its potential. But everything depends on the pursued goal, of course.
|You don't like rankings? Then...|
Very simple: Like the Gamification World Congress and GSumit forum are the "places you must go" if you like gamification, Rise’s is "the place to be" if you want to have visibility on the field and find out "who's who". Like it or not, external customers and anyone interested who does not know about gamification, sooner or later ends up falling on that list. Of course, after that you have to prove tour value with facts.
And it’s fun, of course: Like any human being I find fun on the list movements, all the meeting new people thing and (above all) make jokes about the Spanish top-ranked and stuff ... I think it helps when building a community.
However, this don’t leave me happy. For example: check the “number of comments on posts” indicator ... Can we really call ourselves “community” when we generate content, but did not interact meaningfully with each other? Perhaps we are not measuring the important things properly? Is this the best tool we can design as gamification professionals to create a stronger community? Are we a guild of blacksmiths using rubber hammers to forge, instead of metal ones?
I hear how organizations and markets rise and ask us ...
"Is this the best you have?"