Farm(vilification) of Work


I have two games on my iPhone: Words With Friends and Bejeweled. Do you play? Hit me up.

Because my downtime is gamified, I always have something to do when I’m stuck in an airport or bored during on a conference call.

That’s right. You read that properly. My downtime is game-uh-fide.

And now there’s a (relatively) new trend in the workforce to make your life more like a game, and thus, more fun. It’s called the gamification of work. It refers to the concept where an employer tries to trick you into having ‘fake fun’ or ‘forced fun’ while you are completing the rote tasks that make up your daily job.

Sounds awesome, right?

It’s not.

Back in the day, people used to participate in this thing called adulthood. You were expected to show up at your job, perform your duties at a reasonable level and without too much trouble, and keep your colleagues updated on projects and tasks. We paid you to do this. Maybe work didn’t give you a sense of autonomy, mastery, or purpose. Maybe work didn’t fill the tremendous hole in your soul left by your shitty parents. But work paid the bills and put your kids through college.

Now times are different. Wages are depressed and we’ve hyperspecialized ourselves out of jobs. So now we pay you (sorta) but we also give you badges and whistles that are baked into an expensive software package that that your employer purchased instead of giving you a raise. That’s right. In order to incent you to do the stuff you ought to be doing in the first place, we’ve stopped giving you money.

Never fear. We have invested those dollars into a software program that feels like a Zynga app for work.

Does that sound awesome to you? Does that sound like the future of work?

Well it is.

Your employer understands human psychology and wants to Farmvillize your life in order to incent you to do your job well. And you’re supposed to roll over — while tethered to your company-issued smartphone — and be thankful.


I want you to repeat after me:

  • Fuck that.

I am not opposed to having fun, but when you get a badge for showing up to work, your boss is telling you that you are too stupid to understand the basic tenets of capitalism. When you accept ‘points’ for meeting your goals instead of demanding a decent bonus at the end of the year, you are a fool.

And while ‘work completes you’ in a very Jerry Maguire way, work is also a service you provide in exchange for a paycheck and benefits. The weird trend of applying Gen Y stereotypes to the labor market and giving you a badge with flashing lights instead of giving you a raise is a bastardization of human psychology.

But just like that game of charades you play at Christmas, I suppose ‘forced fun’ and the gamification of work will grow on you.

Good luck with that, suckers.

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