Sunday, September 25, 2011

Are we Being Gamed by Gamification?

I've blogged about Foursquare before and how it doesn't have much value proposition for the user...yet here I am, over a year after my "Foursquare fatigue" post and I'm still using Foursquare. Still fumbling around with my phone while trying to juggle my wallet and coffee at Dunkin Donuts so I can reclaim my mayorship. Still spending--no, make that wasting--time reloading and reloading every time Foursquare doesn't want to connect--which is frequently. Sharing more and more details about myself--not just what movie theater I'm at but what movie I'm seeing.

Why? Is it because all this effort has paid off and I've started getting free stuff? No. Is it because of the super-fun badges? Hell no. For one, they're not super-fun and for two, I hardly get badges anymore (not like I was counting to begin with or anything...). The specials Foursquare offers are negligible, at best, at least in the area I live in.

Someone asked me why I use Foursquare the other day and honestly, the only reason I could come up with was because it's become a habit for me and seems to somehow hold the promise of some great reward at some future time. What reward I don't know; what future time I don't know. I honestly could not tell you why I continue to use Foursquare...yet I do.

I get what's in it for marketers, and for businesses--but what's in it for users when it comes to location-based games like Foursquare? I know about tips and reviews but, speaking of gaming, we all know those can be gamed just as well, so I'm talking about personal value in exchange for taking the time to check in. Because I'm feeling like a chump for buying into it and would be relieved to have an answer better than "I'm not really sure" to the question "why would you take the time to use Foursquare?"

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