Relationships and Gamification and Enabling Technologies

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Relationships are one of the biggest influencers of our actions, behaviours, insights, opinions and development. All living creatures have relationships with other entities in their environment and human beings have relationships with other humans, animals, tools, their physical surroundings and, importantly, with their personal self. It is our ability to influence, develop and manage these relationships which will determine how successful we are in shaping our world, achieving our objectives and making a difference through our lives. This paper explores how gamification strategies can be developed to improve or strengthen our ability to influence others and explores the role that enabling technologies such as the internet of things, big data, cloud computing and social media will play in shaping the future of business and society. This paper refers to concepts explained in more detail in the “Gamification and Enabling Technologies White Paper” available for download at :- http://www.slideshare.net/dwortley/gamification-and-enabling-technologies-white-paper.

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Relationships and Gamification and Enabling Technologies

  1. 1. Gamification and Enabling Technologies in Relationships David Wortley CEO and Founder GAITSS, Gamification and Immersive Technologies Strategic Solutions, 6E Coriander Road, Leicester, UK E-mail: david@gaitss.net Keywords: Gamification, Relationships, Enabling Technologies, Future of Society, Social Engineering, Leadership Abstract. Relationships are one of the biggest influencers of our actions, behaviours, insights, opinions and development. All living creatures have relationships with other entities in their environment and human beings have relationships with other humans, animals, tools, their physical surroundings and, importantly, with their personal self. It is our ability to influence, develop and manage these relationships which will determine how successful we are in shaping our world, achieving our objectives and making a difference through our lives. This paper explores how gamification strategies can be developed to improve or strengthen our ability to influence others and explores the role that enabling technologies such as the internet of things, big data, cloud computing and social media will play in shaping the future of business and society. This paper refers to concepts explained in more detail in the “Gamification and Enabling Technologies White Paper” available for download at :- http://www.slideshare.net/dwortley/gamification-and-enabling-technologies-white- paper. 1. Introduction From the moment life begins in the womb, relationships play a crucial role in our development and our ability to survive and prosper. Life begins with a relationship in which our development is not
  2. 2. only dependent on the mother, but also, directly or indirectly, with a network of other human beings and entities over which we have no control. The interactions between human beings, the environment and the genetic origins of our body eventually reach the point where we are born into what must be a strange, alien environment after the comfort of the womb and after nine months in a “game” of complex interactions has been played out, we enter the world and begin our journey and quest to become an independent living creature. Almost immediately the trauma of birth is over, we have our first experience of a “game” in which we are “encouraged” to exercise our lungs and start to breathe by being held upside down and given a smack on the buttocks. The reward for successful completion of this task is to be reunited with the warmth of the human being who has been responsible for our development inside the womb. From this moment onwards, viewed through the perspective of the gamification lens, our development is a process in which we start by relying on our genetic animal instincts to explore and interact with our world but gradually, through this process, we begin to develop the gamification skills which equip us with the tools to shape and influence the actions, behaviours, opinions and responses not only of other human beings, but also of all manner of objects, artefacts, entities and other living creatures. 3. Relationships, Reciprocity and Balance – the importance of the win-win strategy It is my contention that the genetic make-up of every living creature contains the motivation to explore, understand and control its world. The Gamification cycle illustrates the continuous nature of a process which begins with a challenge or identified need leading to a response, measurement of the impact, feedback and an element of learning and development which then helps to refine future actions. In understanding how this impacts relationships, it
  3. 3. is important to recognise that as far as relationships with other living creatures is concerned, reciprocity and balance are very key to development strategies. Anyone interacting with a baby cannot fail to get the impression that they are keenly observing you and will react to your expressions or voices. This “game” we play with babies is our attempt to get a positive reaction from the baby for our own satisfaction and feeling of a connection or bond but babies also judge from our responses what kind of reaction they get from adults when they smile or cry or express their feelings in other ways. This reciprocity reflects the nature of the balance of a relationship and the importance of a win-win outcome in any relationship. Relationships which are based on win-lose outcomes are neither effective nor healthy but such relationships are all too common and destructive to our development as individuals and a society. 3. Impact of Technology on Relationships - The Disruptive Shift from Hierarchies to Networks Our natural and genetic instinct to use gamification as a tool to influence and manage our world is essentially based on hierarchical development. We start our lives at the base of a pyramid in which we are not only dependent on those “above” us (meaning more developed and having higher levels of
  4. 4. influence or control) in the hierarchy, but we also, in the gamification of our lives, continually strive to get to the next level, inspired and influenced by those above. We observe and learn from a whole spectrum of our relationships what our capabilities are and develop response strategies to the world around us to have some control or impact. Today’s technologies have had a major and disruptive impact on relationships of all kinds through the process of “disintermediation” which removes intermediate layers in the hierarchy and creates a more networked structure in which there is apparent equality and a variety of interconnections that are not based on hierarchical levels. This, together with the fact that every individual in this global digital society is able to communicate and theoretically influence infinitely more human beings than ever before is a major challenge, not only to relationships but also to the sustainability of existing social structures. We are in essence the most connected society in history but paradoxically, because of the weakening of bonds, the most disconnected society in history. Digital Natives Another critical manifestation of the impact of technology is the emergence of “digital natives” or “Generation Y” who, through their natural gamification instincts and the availability of highly intuitive, interactive and engaging technologies develop their gamification skills far more quickly than ever before and where previously they would have been influenced by the greater authority and aptitude of an older human being, their ability to use technology quickly overtakes those people who would have been at a higher level in the hierarchy, creating challenges to authority and some of the problems we now see in education. Amongst the consequences of this shift to a networked society is the loss of leadership structures which are a natural part of hierarchies but are absent in networked structures. This may be responsible for what I see as a shift from an internal locus of control (in which individuals feel in control of their future) to an external locus of control (in which individuals feel their actions make no difference). If this is true, it is a potentially dangerous development for society because it reflects a disconnection between power to act and a responsibility for your actions.
  5. 5. I believe that one of the most important values of gamification strategies and enabling technologies is to develop essential leadership skills based on the facilitation of win-win relationships within a networked structure as a basis for a sustainable future. 4. The Importance of Paradox in Relationships The Accessible Inaccesible One of the most important characteristics in the use of gamification strategies is the notion of the paradox as an essential element in effective gamification. Games development companies are very familiar with the need to balance the accessibility of gameplay with the inaccessibility of complete mastery. The most successful games are those which users can get involved with very quickly without a steep learning curve but are constantly challenged to reach an ultimate mastery which is always just beyond reach. This idea of a paradox in relationships has nothing to do with technology but is reflected by such notions as “tough love” which I have heard described as the reason why a particular teacher had been the biggest influence in someone’s development. This notion of tough love may seem at first glance in conflict with “unconditional love” but the two ideals can be perfectly aligned. In any relationship “easy love” in which love is given freely to anyone without reciprocity and balance does not bring sustainability or respect. Many loving families who have given their children everything they wanted without any discipline or rules to guide them have discovered they have raised monsters who believe everything is a right without any responsibility to earn those rights. 5. Enabling Technologies and Relationships It was very tempting to head this section “Disabling Technologies” and relationships because, paradoxically, those technologies that have been most closely identified with building new relationships in cyberspace are actually responsible for eroding the quality and effectiveness of relationships in shaping a sustainable future. I have personally experienced both the benefits and downsides of technologies such as internet dating sites and social media sites, both of which are intended to facilitate the basic human need to build relationships which help us to shape our future. Conceptually this is done by using artificial intelligence and “pattern matching” technologies to connect people with similar interests together and whilst there any plenty of examples of people who have formed mutually productive and sustainable relationships, all too often the accessibility and attractiveness of new opportunities via the internet dilutes the strength and value of the kinds of sustainable relationships we need as a society.
  6. 6. The A Team – Authority, Aptitude, Ambition, Alignment, Adjacency, Associates, Awareness, Affectedness, Activation, Attractiveness, Accessibility, Affordability If technologies are to become genuinely enabling to relationship development, my approach is to use the Gamification cycle to explore ways in which technology can support the development of my “A Team” attributes in each and every part of the cycle. This idea goes way beyond the use of “badges”, rewards and incentives as tools for motivation but critically examines the human factors that influence relationships to see how technology either supports or dilutes their effectiveness. I believe that the greatest potential for the use of technology in the gamification of relationships is in the measurement and feedback parts of the cycle. Good relationships depend on good communication and feedback that reinforce effective actions and penalise or reveal ineffective actions, leading to continuous learning and development and more balance within a relationship . 6. Conclusions We all depend on our ability to develop and manage relationships with other entities in our lives, whether they be family, friends, business associates, pets, our home or the plethora of technologies we take for granted today. The strength and nature of these relationships is vital to a sustainable society and the profound impact of the disruptive technologies we rely on daily is undoubtedly creating many problems for relationships of all kinds. It is very important to better understand how the genetic animal instinct to use gamification to shape the world around us can harness and shape technology as a power for good. Gamification in relationships is an age-old practice which I have heard described as “benign manipulation” but enabling technologies used in the gamification of relationships to develop the skills to influence others can be used for both good and evil purposes. I believe we need to seriously consider how we shape their use for ethical purposes to the benefit of all mankind. Gamification, with our without enabling technologies, as a process to develop the leadership skills needed in today’s networked society can make an important contribution to a sustainable future.
  7. 7. About the Author www.gadgetstogodbook.com David Wortley is the author of “Gadgets to God”, a historical perspective of mankind’s changing relationship with technology over the last 60 years and a vision of the future impact of disruptive communications technologies on business and society. He is also a freelance consultant on the strategic use of immersive and emerging technologies such as serious games, virtual worlds and social networks. His passion is helping organisations and individuals to leverage the power of these technologies for competitive advantage and business/personal development. David is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) with a career which has embraced the converging and emerging technologies of telecommunications (Post Office Telecommunications), computing (IBM), digital media and community informatics (Mass Mitec, a rural SME) and the creative industries (De Montfort University Leicester, UK). He is a serial entrepreneur and innovator with a passion for applying technology to social and economic development Web Site: www.gaitss.net Email: david@gaitss.net

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