A gamification guru in the 1600s – Thomas Hobson

Hobson’s choice is one of those phrases we use often without fully understanding it. Or knowing where it comes from.

Thomas Hobson was a livery stable keeper in the 1600s with 40 horses in his stables. In order to avoid his best horses being overused he used to offer prospective customers a simple choice – either they could take the horse nearest the stable door, or none at all. It was a free choice but understood as “take it or leave it”. ┬áIt must have worked otherwise we would never have heard about him and his infamous choice.

Was this a game mechanic applied to business – Hobson created an arbitrary rule which benefited his business (and spawned a new phrase for the English language) and must have created some play. You can imagine the prospective horse borrowers jostling for position in order to avoid getting a slow horse…

Toby Beresford

Toby is founder and CEO of Rise the success tracking network to track, publish and share success. He was the 2013 chair of Gamfed.com - the International Gamification Confederation and organises the UK Gamifiers meetup. As a gamification leader, he speaks at conferences and hosts workshops. Follow him on twitter @tobyberesford and Subscribe to this blog at Gamification Of Work blog feed

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