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rethinking gamification

Ruffino, P., & Fizek, S. (n.d.). Rethinking Gamification. Retrieved from

more on gamification in this IMS blog

Gamification can be approached in at least two ways. First, as a general process in which games and playful experiences are understood as essential components of society and culture.

Sebastian Deterding, Rilla
Khaled, Lennart Nacke and Dan Dixon have proposed a tentative history of
the term: “ ‘gamification’ as a term originated in the digital media industry.
The first documented use dates back to 2008, but gamification only entered
widespread adoption in the second half of 2010”

Jane McGonigal’s work, expounded in her contribution at the TED
Talk series in 2010, is also concerned with “selling” gamification to corporations.
In her book Reality is Broken. p.9  In her understanding, gamification is a concept that describes a new age where gamers can collectively use their problem-solving skills not only
to solve puzzles within a digital game but also to approach social and political
issues in the real world. Gaming, according to McGonigal’s vision,
could and should play a redeeming role. Game designers could become the
new social entrepreneurs, and citizens become gamers. From this perspective,
gamification thus becomes a technique for enabling greatly ambitious

p. 10 Consumer loyalty, issues related to finance and governance, workers’ productivity, training and development – these are only some of the areas that are allegedly being positively revolu tionised by the emergence of gamification

As outlined by Ian Bogost in several contexts (2011a, 2011b), gamificatio has little to do with the design of games (or an allegedly salvific process), and much more with the exploitation of consumers. It frustrates the practice of game design and reduces playing to a stimulus-response experience

p. 11 Niklas Schrape proposes looking, through Foucault, at how gamification might work as a method to regulate individuals and their social lives. It also works as a pleasant regulator of behaviour because it offers positive feedback (rewards, leaderboards, etc.) rather than
negative penalties (fines, prison, etc.).

Ruffino looks at the work of Tim Ingold and his reading of Bergson and Heidegger and argues that participation, dwelling and co-existence could be seen as alternative ways of thinking about engagement: less as a transitive process that goes from games to their players and more as an in transitive status that needs to be narrated in order to be of any value

Foursquare alters the experience of moving about on the streets of a city and establishes a form of communication based on bodily proximity

p. 12 Joost Raessens examines how gamification could be seen in the context of a more general “ludic turn”, which affects society and culture at many different levels. This century, Raessens notes, has seen several different kinds of “turns”: We have seen the linguistic turn, the digital, followed by the material one and many others. To what extent could we say that we are now experiencing a playful turnp.

p. 14 the definition of gamification as the use of game elements in a non-game context.
Philippette suggests the very idea that games that can influencethe non-game context could be re-interpreted following Henriot’s theories on play (

Counter-gamification is not a precise practice; it is not defined in guidebooks, workshops, or tutorials. It is instead a form of appropriation of playful elements by artists in order to promote radical and oppositional values.

p. 15 Fizek’s proposal is to expand the concept of play and fun and to introduce new forms of engagement in the practice of gamification

If the endgame approach were applied to gamification, Nicholson argues, we could see very different ways of designing and playing. The author explores these alternative modes of gamifying things through a text that offers both a theoretical understanding of gamification and exceptionally useful suggestions for designers.

p. 16 an eudaimonic view of gamification could bring a “good” way of living and
playing, one where joy and satisfaction are at the centre of a responsible practice. Gamification, according to Deterding, could become the name of a play practice that truly helps human beings in fulfilling their own lives and those of others

More on Bogost in this IMS blog

immersive journalism, games, and empathy

Virtual reality breathes life into immersive storytelling

Virtual Games Try To Generate Real Empathy For Faraway Conflict

James Delahoussaye

Project Syria, a virtual reality experience built by a team of students at USC.

“I sometimes call virtual reality an empathy generator,” she says. “It’s astonishing to me. People all of a sudden connect to the characters in a way that they don’t when they’ve read about it in the newspaper or watched it on TV.”

What Peña’s doing — using virtual reality in combination with reporting — is part of a wider landscape of video games being created to explore the news. And they’re called, appropriately enough, “newsgames.”

“There’s an argument to be made that games are perfect at getting at the systemic problems and challenges in the world,” says Ian Bogost, a professor at Georgia Tech.

He says games are really good at showing the complex underbelly of stories.

Take a game that he helped make called Oil God. In the game, the player controls an oil-rich region, waging wars and inciting coupes. The player learns that oil prices are contingent on all sorts of factors rarely mentioned in a story about the price of a gallon of gas.

The Sociology of Videogames

creating games to bring awareness to social issues for over a decade.  The game to create the biggest waves was arguably MTV’s “Darfur is Dying” released online in 2006, in which players took up the role of a family displaced by conflict in Darfur.