Gamification has a dark side

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Gamification is the new Taylorism.

Electronic monitoring wasn’t unusual in the hotel business. But Disney took the highly unusual step of displaying the productivity of their workers on scoreboards all over the laundry facilities, says Austin Lynch, director of organizing for Unite Here Local 11. According to Lynch, every worker’s name was compared with the names of coworkers, each one colour-coded like traffic signals. If you were keeping up with the goals of management, your name was displayed in green. If you slowed down, your name was in yellow. If you were behind, your name was in red. Managers could see the monitors from their office, and change production targets from their computers. Each laundry machine would also monitor the rate of worker input, and flash red and yellow lights at the workers directly if they slowed down.


  1. With regard to the gamification of work, one particularly ugly reality is that virtual, non- or semi-fungible rewards replace actual rewards like raises, promotions, and other opportunities. This is good for the short-term bottom line, but utterly deadly to building a robust, flexible, and growing business and workforce. Bonus irony: gamification by it’s very nature and presence in the workplace leads to counter-efforts at gaming the game – getting ahead by beating the algorithm instead of doing productive work.

  2. But Gideon Rosenblatt, doesn’t the grade system in schools work the same way? Teachers grading students. SAT and the rest of the tests are all gamification strategies. Aren’t we all part of the system?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: