Tag Archives: gamification

An example of gamification that isn’t bullshit

With his customary understatement, my Georgia Tech colleague Ian Bogost has famously pointed out that Gamification is Bullshit,  or more precisely “marketing bullshit” whose purpose is “to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business.”  I know what he means and I am also often skeptical of the more benevolent arguments for “gamification,” such Jane McGonigal’s heartfelt argument that games are the best way to ensure human survival in the next century.   What McGonigal ignores is that human culture is already completely gamified – how else to explain the deep pleasure in synchronizing our behavior with one another, in finding symbolic meaning in arbitrary symbols like vocalized sound and scratches in stone? We are hard-wired to enjoy all the things that make up games and we have already used all of those pleasure-producing and obsession-engendering mechanics to shape everything from language to tax codes to  traffic lights to war strategies. For good or bad, the world is already profoundly gamified — so we had better pay attention to the hands we have already been dealt. Continue reading