Life Hacks, Life Lessons

Is Gaming the System always a Bad Thing

One of the many shortcomings of Corporate America is the fact that coworkers just cannot help but wonder if their fellow brother-in-floresent lighting is getting away with something.

Gaming the system (also referred to as gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, cheating the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome …Wikipedia.

Simply put, Gaming the System is taking advantage of the rules of a system in a way that provides you an advantage that others do not receive. Rather than break the rules, there are often ways to take advantage of unintended consequences of the rule design. For example, you could eat lunch at your desk, and then use your lunch break to run errands or even go for a run.


Or get your car washed

I’ve always been a “never break a rule, when bending it will do” sort of person.   And to be honest, I’ve gamed the system many a times.  It basically come down to taking advantage of a situation and creating an opportunity for your personal benefit. Gaming the System is sometimes better marketed as Life Hacks which conjure a less negative meaning.

I think some people look at GTS the way most people think of Las Vegas:  if someone wins big money at the craps table, someone else has to lose money.  Other times people are just pissed they didn’t think of something first and now the loophole has been exposed and closed.

Let’s use an example from the ChicagoNow ecosystem.  Every month we have a contest for Best Post.  We can nominate one of our own pieces and one of someone else’s.  The rules don’t state whether we could just nominate two other pieces but that would be too unselfish AMIRIGHT.   I don’t usually participate but when I do, I ask a couple of CN blogger friends to nominate me with the promise that I will return the favor at their asking.

Is this GTS?  Probably.  Is it hurting anyone?  If you assume the system was set up with positive intent for the community overall, then “gaming the system” means working the rules of the system for one’s personal gain specifically at the expense of the community.  There are times when our Fearless Leader has to remind everyone that submissions are due because he hasn’t received any, so I don’t think that is always the case in my example.

For me GTS goes back to taking advantage of an unintended component of the rule design with the caveat that my gain is not severely impacting anyone else in a negative way.

What do you think?  Share in the comments.

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