Stephen Hackett on my ‘Gamification is for Dicks‘ post:

Ben’s choice of words aside, I don’t think the addition of “secret” UI themes in Clear is a bad thing. The app itself — its gestures, etc. — are playful and light. The “gamification” doesn’t get in the way of using the app, and the “awards” don’t add any functionality. It simply adds new free themes. What’s so wrong with that?

This is the main complaint about my argument1 : that Clear was/is a poor example because it is just themes. Stephen does point out that the app, to him, is “playful and light”.

I disagree with that notion.

Firstly, just because an app is gesture driven doesn’t mean that it is “playful and light”, it just means it is gesture driven. I think it is wrong to classify gesture driven apps as being playful, because gestures themselves aren’t anymore playful than using a mouse.

It seems to me that Stephen wants to dismiss the gamification of Clear by trying to make Clear sound like it is already a game-like app — and I don’t think that is true at all. Clear is a productivity tool, with game mechanics to unlock themes.

Secondly, themes in Clear are a very integral part of the app — in Clear themes are a feature and not an accessory. The themes are how you prioritize items in the list — using the color of the theme to show priority. In most cases themes would just be a nice add-on, but in Clear I would argue that themes are a central part of the user experience.

And that’s why the gamification of unlocking themes in Clear presents a really bad user experience.


  1. Aside from the very small minority that didn’t like my wording. 


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