Tech companies like gamifying civic problems—but they often reward the wrong things
I would bet that most of Waze’s 100 million users probably don’t know that it originally started as a game.
If you were one of the Wazers who first got your hands on the navigation app in 2009, in addition to a map of your route, you’d find yourself confronted with a trail of pellets in your path, which your car would “chomp” as you drove over them.
“There’s one rule: you have to be the first Waze user to drive down that road since the first driver gets the pellets,” wrote one AOL reviewer. “Apparently some cretin had already road munched half the pellets on the way to my son’s school. Just for the extra pellets, I actually drove on the side roads on the way back.”
The pellets, of course, were placed on streets to gather data, so Waze’s engineers could compare what they thought they knew about users’ neighborhood with real-time driving information. Framing it as a game was one of the reasons that Waze grew so quickly and became so essential for drivers. And it’s the same reason app developers apply game-like features to everything from physical activity to losing weight to getting pregnant.
Maybe Waze was fun in 2009, when it was more like a Pac-Man chomping pellets. But now I feel like it’s a game that incentivizes the wrong behavior.
When I type in a destination, I feel as if Waze presents me not as much with an itinerary, but with a time to beat. As the “estimated arrival” inevitably ticks up on a clogged freeway, Waze’s interface makes me start to feel like being two or three minutes late might, indeed, be the end of the world. If I don’t choose the optimal minute-saving path—which might require making a potentially dangerous left-hand detour I would never make of my own accord—I will surely lose.
I’d argue that Waze’s idea of turning commuting into a game has become dangerous—not just because of the bizarre turns, or the distractions of using an app behind the wheel, but also by perpetuating this idea that we all might be able to “beat” traffic… by driving.
Read the full story HERE >>> Source: Curbed https://www.curbed.com/2018/7/20/17591456/gamification-tech-waze-uber-transportation