"From schools, through workplaces, healthcare, travel, and marketing, to everyday leisure activities and even sex, life is becoming more and more gamified.
Yet the definition of gamification is still volatile. All the authors in this book try to grasp the meaning, the sense and the consequences of this accelerating trend.
Gamification is widely perceived as a magic bullet – a universal solution to a variety of contemporary problems, not only efficient and cheap, but also infusing our world with lots of “fun”.
In place of this laudatory attitude, this volume presents a critical approach. The emphasis usually put on the fun-factor does not explain anything; in fact it conceals the social, political and cultural consequences of gamifying all spheres of our lives.
It is our aim to explore this dark side of gamification."
Gamification. Critical Approaches
Commission for Techno-Humanities, Faculty of "Artes Liberales", University of Warsaw
Publisher: Faculty of "Artes Liberales", Warsaw, September 2015
Reviewed by Radosław Bomba
Book and individual chapters licenced under:
Cover ilustration licenced under CC-BY-SA 2.0 by fdecomite. Thus cover design by Krzysztof Pacewicz is also licenced under:
This text explores and attempts to interpret gamification as a trend aiming at infiltrating society with the ideology of algorithmisation. Applications for gamification of particular parts of everyday life (wealthiness, sex, work, habits) are employed as cases for study. The main case, HabitRPG, is interpreted as gamification in its purest form; therefore it stands as the core example for interpretation of gamification’s ideology. (pdf)
The paper analyses the discourse on gamification, as presented in "Gamification by Design" by Zichermann and Cunningham, as biopolitical power/knowledge. The gamification techniques proposed by the book are based on a certain understanding of human nature, often presented explicitly. This “anthropology of gamification” – an eclectic and pseudo-scientific variant of behaviourism – is shown to be a crucial element of the proposed techniques of power. It is also argued that the gamification strategies of management proposed by the book incorporate simplifying procedures and disciplinary techniques to ensure that players play by the rules, and thus can have a substantial effect on social behaviour patterns if widely adopted. (pdf)
This chapter addresses the relation between neuroscientific self-quantification devices and quantification/gamification procedures. It is mainly based on the example of Melon – a headband and an app to measure focus on a daily basis. My aim is to show the dual nature of links between gamification/quantification regimes and neuroscience (in particular neuroimaging) with its ability to present our neural activity as transparent. Both gamification and quantification – in my understanding – aim at general behavioural change, resulting in outcomes perceived as positive. In this chapter I will try to show how these regimes interfere with neuroscience in order to become even more persuasive and, essentially, successful (....) (pdf)
The growing popularity of gamification techniques in marketing, user engagement and workforce management makes it important to broaden our understanding of this issue. I argue that instead of simply adding a fun factor to boring activities, gamification creates a new, highly controllable social system. By using game metaphors and mechanics, a designer can influence the behaviour of a subject, but also make him or her easier to supervise and more prone to being used as part of big data. She can initiate competition between some players and silence other potential conflicts. This social system creation resembles the establishment of markets as spheres of economic activity, researched by economic sociologists. Nonetheless, gamification forms a system particularly suited to the designer’s interests, granting her full control over institutions and rules, which makes consideration of underlying power inequalities especially crucial. (pdf)
Taking into account a crucial distinction between “gamification” and “playfulness, I try to analyse the complementary and necessary relationship between “gamified” and “non-gamified” areas and elements in modern video games using the philosophical tools rooted in the modern tradition of studies on biopolitics. Subsequently, I try to define “gamification” as a device that is set up to “take over” non-gamified areas of playful, undetermined interaction – the process exemplifying mechanisms of biopolitical organisation of society. Gamification-as-biopower preys on disorderly, but productive and creative bodies. (pdf)
Commonly accepted definitions of gamification explicitly prohibit the “gamification of games”, stating that even if it occurs, it is either impossible to distinguish from regular “game design”, or else limited to achievements. However, careful examination of design trends observed in games published after 2010 indicates otherwise. A case study of two game series by Blizzard Entertainment was performed: Diablo and StarCraft. The recent releases in each of these series were compared with their predecessors. In light of each series’ design history and ongoing development through patches and expansions, we arrive at the conclusion that the “gamification of games” trend is quite real, and not limited to achievements. (pdf)
Is the world but a game? Is the cosmos a playground? If so, so be it – but what would the aim of such cosmic gameplay be? What would the rules of such a game be? Would they be similar to the laws of nature as currently understood? Or perhaps it is only la comédie designed as a theatre play? Further, could the turn of contemporary society towards gamification, so to speak, be explained by the sheer fact that gameplay is perhaps the most “inhuman” and “abstract” of all the arts – not only because the whole world plays comedy, but primarily because in the world there is nothing to be won, except the game itself? Is “the ability to be programmed” but one inherent feature of the cosmos? In other words, can the cosmos be described in terms of the real-time execution of a finite set of instructions? Perhaps we have become a society disciplined by outplaying – do not mistake this for “playing out” – games in all available disciplines? Perhaps this society of ours is the first case of a society bearing witness to full gamification – a society using and applying mechanics and rules of computer strategy games to non-game contexts in order to maintain, modify and model the behaviour of individuals and groups of people? (pdf)
Commission for Techno-Humanities is a unit of the Faculty of "Artes Liberales" (University of Warsaw) aiming at conducting research on the social contexts of functioning of the most recent technologies. The main focus of the Commision in 2014 and 2015 was gamification and this book is a product of this research.
Permanent members of the Commission are: