Lets watch some numbers change February 5, 2011 cliffski When you are a game designer, you become more attuend to this phenomena, but it is all around us. In games, we really notice it. In fact, a talented journalist once reviewed kudos by saying “it’s just watching numbers go up, but sometimes, that’s all you need”. (or words to that effect.) You probably know what I mean in terms of stuff like ‘leveling up’ in games like World Of Warcraft, or earning skill points in an online shooter. It’s nothing new, when I was a kid there was a lot of obsession about winning a place on the high score table at your local arcade. We seem to love nothing better than getting a high score, a better score, better than our friends, better than yesterday, better than 10 minutes ago. It’s only when you analyse it, you realsie it’s not just in games, but everywhere. We love getting a pay rise, even if the rise is taken up entirely by extra tax. We care about the ‘top 10’ or the billboard ‘top 100’. And we love seeing numbers change. It’s not enough to know who is #34 in the worlds richest/fattest/sexiest/cleverest person. We need to know they have risen 4 places! I love playing the stock market, I get a whole page full of numbers to check, and they go up and down in REAL TIME! And deep down, I know that one of my motivations for getting solar panels is that I’ll get to watch more numbers change each day. What does surprise me is that employers don’t do this stuff more. My brain would melt if I had a job on a checkout at a supermarket, or driving a truck long distance. However, if there was some built in emtrics and measurement meta-game to my job, based on how efficiently, or consistently I did my job, I’d end up focusing on that, and it would probably make my job go much easier. People love seeing numbers going up, and comparing numbers, why don’t workplaces make use of that?