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Thursday, May 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Here's a tip that ought to be obvious: Games are meant to be fun. If they're not, they're not games.

Boring terminology does not enhance the gaming experience.

That's gaming, not gamifying.

Can you tell I'm annoyed?

This has been brought on a by an American Bar Association Journal web article by an "information technology lawyer," titled " What Can 'Gamification' Do for Lawyers? "

According to this expert: "Gamification means the application of game techniques in nongame contexts with the goals of increasing user engagement and improving desired results."

My first reaction to this was to think the guy made up the word. But apparently it does indeed exist. There's even a gamification.org and a website - badgeville.com - that will sell you personalized games for your business.

I don't know how these business game purveyors are doing, but I have my doubts. There seems to be a key gaming element missing: fun.

This is from the ABA Journal piece: "Points, badges or rewards for lawyers who turn in timesheets promptly might improve submission rates."

As opposed to paying them?

And: "Quizzes or puzzles might draw return visitors to a firm's website."

Maybe to play the games. Probably not to hire the law firm.

Besides, if you enjoy computer games, a law firm website might not be your first choice for action. ("Hmm. Should I log on to Steam, World of Warcraft, or Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom?")

I'm all for solving problems with games or computer simulations (if you haven't read Ender's Game, stop reading this and go pick up a copy now). Consider all the time and intellectual power put into gaming (not gamification) and then imagine if all of that were used to solve real world problems.

But the only way that can happen is if the experience is enjoyable and/or addictive.

So here's what law firms need to do: Tailor your games to their users. Some examples:

Grand Theft Defense: Encourage your criminal clients to take out their aggression on cartoon versions of their accusers and re-enact their crimes while using game program options to craft airtight alibis.

When the computer is convinced your client is innocent, you're ready to go to court.

Sim City: Law Firm Edition: Populate your imaginary law firm with cranky senior partners and young, nubile associates, while expanding the influence of your simulated department. If a volcano destroys your office and you fail to convince an insurance company to pay up, you're fired.

Need for Greed: Zoom to the top of the leader board with inventive forms of billing that look legitimate enough to persuade virtual clients to pay up. Any associate who figures out how to bill for more than 168 hours per week and get paid for it should be automatically promoted to partner.

Leisure Suit Lawyer: In this real-time strategy challenge, your sexual harassment/hostile environment defendant clients must elude the amorous attentions of a perspiring guy in a suit. The only way to win is to complete your simulated work assignments while avoiding being pantsed.

Perhaps this will teach them something.

I love a good assumption of risk issue. This is from a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed last week against Playboy Enterprises:

"The photograph was supposed to depict the plaintiff lying flat on her stomach with her buttocks partially exposed. A golf tee was then placed between the cheeks of her buttocks and a golf ball was balanced on top of the tee."

Can you guess what happened next?

Of course you can.

"Defendant ... swung the golf club and struck plaintiff on the buttocks."

For some reason, the concept of "attractive nuisance" comes to mind ...

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