Feminine gamification viewpoint: the gender debate
In the aftermath of my presentation about gender difference at the Gamification world congress, I had a lot of interesting conversations. A few things came out, which I want to point out in this post.
A lot of guys shared that some of their behaviours were indeed also very feminine and a few ladies shared their ability to be very masculine in approach. Both are absolutely normal and acceptable. What I started my talk with was a health warning, namely that although the presentation slides showed a strict and clear divide, the reality however is that we are talking about a spectrum of behaviour where both gender have the flexibility to operate from another side of the spectrum depending on the situation. Occasionally you will find people operating only on one side of the spectrum, but in fact it is a lot more normal to adapt depending on situations. Hence also my recommendation to include all male, all female and mixed gender test and focus groups when designing your gamification.
What was however very fascinating is that men felt the talk was pushing a lot of hot buttons and raising critique and women came up to tell me how they felt it was really important to be put out in the open and they felt heard. I never expected this kind of reaction and in some of the conversations it became quite a passionate debate.
One lunch we had a mixed group who had all attended the presentation and a guy really questioned why gender really should be on the agenda, because in his view age, social demographic, culture were more important. To me these are also important factors, and I would add gender in this list. Test and design for all of these. The debate got so heated that three ladies were trying to convince the man of why it was on an equal setting with age, background, education etc. and then all of a sudden the debate came with a very personal example of one lady and her daughter which also caused some emotions to show. In some ways it was the perfect way to show the differences, the two ladies in the conversation became very empathetic and the guy had a look of shock on his face, when I pointed this out we all laughed and he concluded to give it some more reflection.
One of the stories I mentioned thanks to an audience question is how embedding prompts about gender in a game, which was aimed to draw out emotion in relation to awkward situations. They were just a few of the many situations presented, by using those examples it also raised awareness about gender equality without ever pushing that agenda explicitly. When designing enterprise gamification solutions this is also an option, give these situations as examples just like you would with race, age, ability, etc and let’s mix it in to show it is out in the open to talk about it and reflect on it. With awareness, you give everyone the choice to reflect on their actions and potentially opt for different behaviour.
What examples have you come across where embedded gamification design was used to raise awareness without making it the whole purpose of the design?