Can Games and Gamification Fix Washington?
Posted: 02/ 4/11 12:55 PM ET
Even without protests in Cairo and Tea Party insouciance, there's no doubt thatmost governments eventually lose "sync" with their people. Much like the software process that keeps the contacts, music and photos on our phones up to date withour computers, syncing government with the governed is challenging from asystems perspective. With so many moving parts, money, competing interests andlives at stake, it's no wonder that sometimes the only way to fix things is to do acomplete wipe and reinstall.But could the solution to reforming government -- generally making it moreaccountable, efficient and representative of its people -- be found in technology?Can we move beyond procedural tweaks and yo-yo elections and address some of the fundamental underlying issues that plague our democracy?I mean, if Apple, Google and Microsoft can't even figure out a way to keep our address books current and not duplicated, what hope do we have to achieving thesame in Washington? The answer may lie in using games -- or more specifically,gamification -- to understand why our government is so dysfunctional, and thenwork towards a fix.Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics to solve problemsand engage audiences, and is being used in fields as diverse as health care,education and advertising to create radical and profound behavior change. Thefirst-ever Gamification Summitwas recently held in San Francisco, and a questionthat was raised several times was, "Why can't it work in Washington?" It can, andin some cases, already does.Here then are three ways we can begin to fix government using gamification.
Understand the Player
The first rule of game design is "know your player". And when we leveragegamification to transform organizations and systems, the first thing we try to