Sunday, November 9, 2014

KISS The Zombie Technology Elimination Project

When designing a Gamified system, it's important to keep the design as simple as possible. In other words, KISS aka Keep It Simple Student of life. This helps get a release done sooner and communicating the concepts to the players an easier task.

So, what happened? In the initial design of the Zombie Technology Elimination Project (ZTEP) system, there was a concept called WIP points. It was there to combat a potential behavioral side-effect. You might ask, what's a behavior side-effect?

The best example of a system which promoted a behavior side-effect is the Bay Bridge toll example where people paid less toll money if they waited to cross it after a certain time period. Unfortunately, people will do dangerous things to pay less money. Slides 10 and 11 below are the things to see related to the bridge and also are shown in the article written by Nicole Lazzaro titled Gamification Can Kill.

With that toll bridge design tragedy in mind, I decided that my ZTEP system would avoid such unintended side effects.

In order to give people a sense of progress, I designed in WIP points for changing code and Zombie Points for releasing the code into production. The WIP points followed by the Zombie Points were in place to encourage software developers to change the code and then release those code changes into production. Hypothetically, the worst case situation is where a code defect could be inserted and another person much later would push the defective code into production. Picture someone stepping into another person's gum and you get the picture. It turns out the WIP points were not needed.

Professional software developers pride themselves on writing code that works and is used by people. If you will pardon the expression, the WIP points were overkill.

We are in the process of removing the WIP points from the system. This frees up webpage screen real estate and the backend system can also made be simpler. So, its removal is a win.

If I had it all over again, I would have had the WIP points as something to add later if it was proven to be needed. At least the cost of the lesson learned was not too high; live and learn. As Mahatma Gandhi said "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

Mahatma Gandhi Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever
(Photo by BK on Flickr)

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