(See my follow-up post, Kathy Sierra On Gamification In Education)

I know there has been a fair amount of online discussion going on about using “gamification” in schools, but I haven’t really been keeping on top of it. Today, though, I read an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle headlined Jury out on Zamzee, other forms of ‘gamification.’ Here’s an excerpt (but it’s definitely worth reading the entire article):

While gamification is a relatively new concept, the science of human motivation is not. And critics of the gamification concept – and even proponents who feel the concepts are misapplied – say many examples so far fundamentally misunderstand what drives behavior.

The most basic mistake is thinking that people play games for external rewards like points and badges, whereas in fact people play games because games are intrinsically fun or rewarding. The points are just a way of keeping score, an almost incidental add-on to the process. Sudoku has no points, for instance, but that hasn’t stopped millions from playing.

“Actual games and gamification are at complete opposite poles on the motivation continuum,” said Kathy Sierra, a writer and game developer.

This isn’t a big problem when rewards and points are applied to rote work, like chores or brushing your teeth. After all, there’s little worry of making those things less engaging.

But Dan Pink, the author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” has pointed out that studies show that when the task rises to the level of even rudimentary cognitive skills – anything above mechanical tasks – incentives start to work in reverse. Greater rewards – including higher pay – lead to poorer performance with things like creative tasks.

This de-motivation flies in the face of economic theory, and yet the findings have been remarkably consistent, Pink and others say.

Another common misconception is that sparking competition – by using things like workplace leader boards to increase productivity – leads to long-term improvements. In fact, interest tends to trail off quickly, particularly for those who realize they’re not in the running to win, said Jane McGonigal, a renowned game designer and author of “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.”

In a subsequent Web search, I found another useful article titled 3 Reasons NOT to Gamify Education.

It seems to me that learning games certainly have a role in schools, but I’m not so sure about “gamification.” What do you think — are there ways to incorporate “gamification” without hurting intrinsic motivation?