Zach Johnston stashed this in Design
I would call this more Ethical Design than Moral Design.
Thanks or sharing this article. It is very thoughtful, and I love the concept of The Slow Web: http://blog.jackcheng.com/post/25160553986/the-slow-web
Honestly this is the sort of narrow minded, Prohibitionist, uptight thinking I was frequently subjected to by people when I worked at zynga. Rarely do these judges spend the time to understand the people who play these games and what their joys and values are; rather these judges just dismiss it out of hand. While there is no question that many folks want to use the tricks of games to manipulate behavior, they are typically doomed if they do not keep the rest of the game bargain: provide fun. And fun varies from human to human. Just because one doesn't find FarmVille (or knitting) fun doesn't means it's not fun for someone else. I mention knitting because of the weird overlap between the two by the same enthusiasts. Yet no one complains about the overpriced yarn or endless sweaters unfortunate family members are subjected to. but pay a dollar for a macaroni tree and everyone is outraged. Hey, joy is joy. I just paid fifteen bucks for season 11 of mythbusters, just as ethereal.
Anyhow, articles like these are immoral to my mind (or ethical), because they lack compassion, empathy and sit in judgement rather than raise the kind of questions that might help us all become better designers and people.
"Don’t think of gamification as anything other than clever strategies to motivate someone to learn so they can have fun being productive."
Source is @rands : Two universes.
He also utters this great line: "Great design makes learning frictionless."
I agree with his article. It reminds me of the "gaming" (read: gambling) industry's concept of reducing "time to extinction": the time until the person runs out of money. http://goodexperience.com/2008/05/the-flip-side-of-cust.php
When you are using your design skills to manipulate people into doung things they would probably state they don't want to do or which are objectively bad for them (think cigarette advertising as another example), then I think that _is_ immoral.
Also, with respect to Zynga particularly, there is a difference to me between casual games/pastimes versus the essentially time-wasting games that Zynga's created.
And I think knitting and Mythbusters demonstrate far more objective value than FarmVille, in that one produces clothing and the other helps promote critical thinking (while also being entertaining, which I agree is also important).