In a world filled with sloppy thinking, this “Gamification” deck from Saatchi is the sloppiest I’ve seen in a while.

There are simple errors in taxonomy, including the fact that “Gamification” is not “games”, and “Social Games” are not what 99% of people are playing on their tablets, but even more broadly: what does it mean to discuss the effects of something not only on Business and Brands, but also Loyalty, as if Loyalty was some parallel constituency?

Purporting to give insight into “gamification,” the study opens on social games — which are themselves simply one type of game. Why not open on console games? Or board games? (A: because those aren’t on techcrunch.)

On page 4, there are two points that follow each other: how “heavy social gamers” are interested in “in-game ad campaigns” and then a note about consumers who are “most willing to take a salary reduction to work for a social responsible company.” As if the use of the word “social” preceding “game” and “responsibility” brings those two concepts together.

There’s no basic understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in gameplay. But Saatchi doesn’t seem to understand what games are, so that’s unsurprising. Even this survey question is broken in at least 3 different ways:

"You indicated that you own a smart phone or a tablet and you like to play social games. How familiar are you with the following types of game-based "social challenges" that you play on your smart device while in a public space (i.e., restaurant, bar, park, store)?"

1. Social games aren’t played on “smart phones” or “tablets” and in general, people don’t even play the same kinds of games on smart phones and tablets to begin with.

2. I have no idea what a “social challenge” is and I don’t imagine most of the survey respondents did either. But since the “social challenges” are “game based,” they must be fun, or?

3. Whatever these game-based social challenges are (GBSCs) they are evidently played on “smart devices” (since tablets are just big phones and phones are little tablets) and have something to do with public venues.


For the first five years of Area/Code, we were working with agencies and brands and companies to develop games that built new forms of engagement. That was very difficult, because basically, no one had any idea what we were talking about, and we had to spend a lot of our time educating clients as to what games did, and can do.

Now, however, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.

Because now, you have agencies like Saatchi producing reports like this, as if theydo understand what they are, and what they can do. There are a few who do. But mostly, this is the butter being smeared across the industry, all on the client’s nickel.

Clients pay their agencies to make things clearer. This is muddy, irresponsible, and will make everyone’s dollars that much less efficient. It will create more crappy, poorly considered “gamified” bullshit, and insofar as we were fighting, this is the opposite of what we were fighting for.

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