Disneyland's laundry used "gamification" as an "electronic whip," leading to worker stress and injuries

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/03/neotaylorism.html


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Setting workers against each other in real-time.



A clear example of a poor implementation of gamification. It should never be used to pit workers against each other in competition, but instead should be used for workers to compete AGAINST THEMSELVES, and presented in a manner that doesn’t lead to stress and injury. I used to mentally gamify boring jobs all the time and try to do better than I had before as a way of making dull, repetitive tasks more fun. But I played against my previous “high scores”, not against what others were doing.


English schools have done that like, forever. The good, hardworking kids get “Good job!”, “Well done!” and “First in class” badges, and those who don’t lie in top get nothing. At least they don’t cane or use dunce hats any more.


R–r-rum punch!

There was an attempt to fix that by marking for effort as well, but the conservative minds decided it was a participation award and belittled it. The special needs student who works hard to get a C is more deserving of reward than the smart kid who coasts to a B (I say that as the smart kid who rarely put the effort in unless it was needed).


I hope Disney considers the union organizing to be part of “The Game” that they started.


Uh, yeah I don’t know about that. I’ve been in plenty of environments that use carrot/stick methods and not once do I recall anyone ever getting into the spirit of it. (ETA: Except for those holding the stick!) Quite the opposite, in fact. Wrapping the idea in the language of gaming only seems to have convinced this writer that the outcomes were similarly games-oriented, ie competition. As @cepheus42 pointed out, that’s not how gamification works. The workers themselves called it an “electronic whip”, not an exhilarating distraction from work drudgery that they got a little carried away with. This is offloading management functions and responsibilities onto the workers as a whole which leads to completely predictable discord. It’s like a terrified middle manager asking the team to choose who gets fired because they don’t want to do it themselves.

More like desperate animals being thrown too-little food and going into a starvation panic.


As a person who hates competition, hollow “rewards,” and everything that goes with the concept of “winning” instead of “thriving” I will always hope that gamefication dies a horrible death in the sewers of shit people who suck come up with to make life more miserable. All of it… school, work, my whole life I have hated this concept and honestly I didn’t even know it had a name. I don’t want to beat my “best score” or to share my “score” or to “score” anything… all of these concepts are antithetical to what life actually means to me.My life has left me very sensitive to manipulation and attempts to hijack the addiction cycle for profit. Those things are the fast-track to my darkest shadow self and man I hate having to manage that while working because to my way of living, if your survival is improved when you “win” or threatened when you “lose” then it’s not a game… it’s a war.


Unless I misread, this was part of a unionized contract.

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In the medical field, there are surgical residencies set up like this. They are called pyramid systems, and effectively each year the lowest performing resident is fired. Resulted in some truly gruesome competitions and confirmed my own decision not to go into that particular field. The higher ups were convinced it assured only the best would complete their program, but my interactions suggested it was more the most heartless did, or maybe they just had compassion beat out of them.


You are correct of course, but THIS gamification is a reaction against teamwork (unionisation) so it MUST make them compete with each other.
It’s the age-old conundrum - teamwork vs competition. If you are competing with a team, anything to disrupt it is fair game.

ETA of course Disney could decide everyone is on the same team, but late-stage capitalism demands that the workers are to be exploited and are disposable. There appears not to be any recognition of the benefits of everyone pulling together. Different players’ objectives are too divergent in LSC.


The point was, when the union pushes back at Dismey, I hope they consider it part of “The Game”.


But isn’t competition always good?


My wife’s hospital system uses the same sort of thing for fitness. They give them a fitbit, and the webpage compares the members of the group as far as number of steps and other metrics. Everyone who meets their fitness goals gets a bonus each quarter, but the real focus is on the competition.
Of course, there is no penalty for not winning, or not participating. That makes all the difference.


There is an argument to be made that the employee personally benefits from increased activity and (hopefully) fitness in your example, and perhaps therefore this is actually using this “electronic whip” in a beneficial way, I think this cannot be said for Disney.

That’s how middle management works. Congratulations dodging that bullet.

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I have an idea for a YA novel - The Laundry Games!


But do they take away a badge from another person before they give it to someone else?