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Gamification: Breaking videogames, reconstructing reality


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In this talk I will examine how the play-element of videogames is deconstructed to try to bring fun back to real life. Games are reality-broken technologies in the sense that they are rule-bound elements that constraint action. Videogames are game-mediated technologies that take advantage of ICT to create more compelling user experiences. Two modern approaches, gamification and playful design, extract the constituent elements of videogames and take them to other non-game contexts to engage users and motivate action. Examples as well as theoretical approaches from game theory and the psychology of motivation will be presented to conceptualize this new level of brokenness. I will argue that this new attempt to bring fun back to everyday activities reflects an underlying brokenness in reality. This new framework addresses the multistability of game technologies and reality.

Published in: Education

Gamification: Breaking videogames, reconstructing reality

  1. 1. HUMINF Seminar Broken Technologies. Alcalá de Henares. Nov 2014. Gamification: Breaking videogames, reconstructing reality Luis de Marcos Ortega (Univ. of Alcalá)
  2. 2. TOC 1. Games 2. Videogames 3. Serious Games 4. Playful Design 5. Gamification 6. Multistability 7. References
  3. 3. Games • Wittgenstein [on language] – “For how is the concept of a game bounded? What still counts as a game and what no longer does? Can you give the boundary? No. You can draw one; for none has so far been drawn. (But that never troubled you before when you used the word ‘game’.)” Philosophical Investigations, Aphorism 68
  4. 4. Games • Huizinga: Play cannot be denied • “play-factor was extremely active all through the cultural process” (Huizinga, 1949) • Magic circle – All play is a voluntary activity – Rule-bound – Absolute order
  5. 5. Games • “playing a game is an attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles“ • Elements: –Objective (prelusory goal) –Rules (lusory means) –Lusory attitude (Suits, 2005)
  6. 6. Games • Game Technologies are reality-broken • “the idea is to create a belief of authenticity; it is a technology that works as a belief-factory” • “we understand this technologies as reality broken, understanding ‘reality’ as the level of completeness that the everyday world demands in space and time dimensionality” (Flores, 2009) • Suspension of disbelief (Coleridge)
  7. 7. Games • Counterargument 1: Inseparable duality reality/imagination • “A child does not behave in a purely symbolic fashion in play; rather he wishes and realizes his wishes by letting the basic categories of reality pass through his experience. The child, in wishing, carries out his wishes. In thinking, he acts. Internal and external action are inseparable: imagination, interpretation, and will are the internal processes carried by external action” (Vygotskii, 1978)
  8. 8. Games • Counterargument 2: Reality is broken • “Reality doesn’t motivate us effectively. Reality isn’t engineered to maximise our potential. Reality wasn’t designed from the bottom up to make us happy. Reality, compared to games, is broken.” • “What if we decided to use everything we know about game design to fix what’s wrong with reality?” (McGonigal, 2011)
  9. 9. Videogames • Computers provide to games: –immediate feedback –multimedia enriched narrative –connectivity
  10. 10. Videogames • Types of brokeness (Flores, 2009). Videogames are: –Game technologies • Reality-broken (space + time) –Virtual technologies • Space-broken –Intermedial technologies • Media-broken
  11. 11. Videogames • “virtual realities are less than three-dimensional realities, and that means a reality that does not belong to the dimensión of the real-presential and cannot be touched. Any study of virtuality is then a study of ‘non-presential’ worlds, worlds in which the human body and the sense of touch is not available” • “virtual reality does not reach the level of everyday materiality, it could be considered as a form of objectifying thought-representation” (Flores, 2009)
  12. 12. Videogames • Play vs game (Caillois, 1958) – Paidia  Play – Ludus  Game
  13. 13. Videogames • Deconstructing games (Deterding, 2011) Gaming (Paidia) System Playing (Ludus) Elements (Serious) Games Gamification (Serious) Toys Playful Design
  14. 14. (Serious) Games • American Army – First-person shooter designed for recruiting – Most effective marketing tool of the American Army
  15. 15. (Serious) Games • Fold-it – Real world-problem (protein folding) – Meaning  contributing to a larger goal
  16. 16. (Serious) Games • (Serious) Game = Game + System • Seriousness is just in the purpose • Not belonging to a different category of analysis from any other [video]game • All games are serious!!! • Similar analysis applies for (Serious) toys • (Serious) Toy = Play + System – Just that it is not an extensive field of research
  17. 17. Playful design • Playful design = Play + elements • Piano Stairs – Behavior change
  18. 18. Playful design • Stairs are stable technologies – never to be broken • Escalator – whole technology while being used – mixed technology • Stairs + Elevator • Piano stairs – broken as piano  impossible to play – temporally turns the scalator into a motivational-broken technology (not ludic)
  19. 19. Gamification • Gamification = Game + elements • “Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts to engage users and promote action” (Werbach, 2012) • a.k.a. gameful design
  20. 20. Gamification • Game design elements (Werbach, 2012) – Dynamics (5): Constraints, emotions, narrative, progression, relationships – Mechanics (10): Challenge, chance, competition, cooperation, feedback, resourse acquisition, rewards, transactions, turns, win states – Components (15): Achievements, avatars, badges, boss fights, collections, combat, content unlocking, gifting, leaderboards, levels, points, quests, social graph, teams, virtual goods.
  21. 21. Gamification • PBL triad: –(P)oints –(B)agdes –(L)eaderboard
  22. 22. Gamification • Foursquare – Social network of places – Visits (check-ins)  Badges (social recognition)
  23. 23. Gamification • Nike+ – Fuel points + community (challenge friends) – 11 million users (2013) – Market share (U.S shoes): • from 47% (2006) to 61% (2009)
  24. 24. Gamification • Starbucks loyality program – Points (stars) + levels – Nice integration: Payment App – 6 million users (2013) – $3 billion in sales
  25. 25. Gamification • Hurrah! & Microsoft CRMGamified – challenge, competition, rewards (trophies) – points, badges, leaderboards, achievements – "generate and inspire key behaviors that drive more sales, encourage and motivate your employees“
  26. 26. Gamification • I suggest that gamification technologies are ontical-broken • “both pragma an noema exist but they, but they are not related with each other in full correspondence. The ontology created in this incongruent relationship is technological but incomplete” (Flores, 2009) • Ontical-broken means tehcnologies of poverty • But… gamification is supposed to motivate, add value, create richness… 26
  27. 27. Gamification • "More and more the sad conclusion forces itself upon us that the play-element in culture has been on the wane ever since the 18th century, when it was in full flower. Civilization today is no longer played, and even where it still seems to play it is false play" (Huizinga, 1959) • “at its core gamification is about finding the fun in the things that you have to do” (Werbach, 2012)
  28. 28. Gamification • “even routine activities can be transformed into personally meaningful games that provide optimal experiences” (Csíkszentmihályi, 1990) • Just think of it AS a game – games at school  school as a game – games at workplace  workplace as a game
  29. 29. Gamification • Motivational design is a promising proposition – How might we restructure a system to support intrinsic enjoyment, using game design as a lens? – Put differently, if this were a game in what ways is it broken? (Deterding, 2012) • Therefore (and again): Is reality broken? Could it be that gamification is just a naïve approach to bring [essential] fun back?
  30. 30. Criticism “Gamification is bullshit. I'm not being flip or glib or provocative. I'm speaking philosophically. More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.” (Bogost)
  31. 31. Criticism • Cow clicker –“deconstructive satire of social games […] gamification, educational apps, and alternate reality games” (wikipedia) –Pointsification…
  32. 32. Criticism “Gamification is an inadvertent con. It tricks people into believing that there’s a simple way to imbue their thing (bank, gym, job, government, genital health outreach program, etc) with the psychological, emotional and social power of a great game.” (Robertson)
  33. 33. Multistability • In terms of action / perception – Games are reality-broken (rules constraint action) • Videogames are media-broken – Gamification is ontical-broken • In motivational terms – Reality is broken – Games are whole technologies – Playful design & gamification are endevours to bring fun back to reality
  34. 34. References • CSÍKSZENTMIHÁLYI, M. 1990. Flow: The psychology of optimal experience, New York, HarperCollins. • CAILLOIS, R. 2001. Man, play, games. Combined Academic Publishers. • DETERDING, S., DIXON, D., KHALED, R. & NACKE, L. 2011. From game design elements to gamefulness: defining "gamification". Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments. Tampere, Finland: ACM • DETERDING, S. 2012. 9.5 Theses on the Power & Efficacy of Gamification. Presentation in SlideShare. • FLORES, F. 2009. Broken Technologies: The Humanist as Engineer, Lund, University of Lund. • HUIZINGA, J. 1949. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-element in Culture, London, Routledge & Kean Paul. • McGONIGAL, J. 2011. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, New York, Penguin Books. • RYAN, R. M. & DECI, E. L. 2000. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67. • SUITS, B. 2005. The Grasshopper: Life, Games & Utopia, Toronto, Broadview Press. • VYGOTSKII, L. S. 1978. Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Cambridge, Massachussetts, Harvard University Press. • WERBACH, K. & HUNTER, D. 2012. For the win: How game thinking can revolutionize your business, Philadelphia, Wharton Digital Press.
  35. 35. Thank you & Questions
  36. 36. Conferencia. ANIEI, CNCIIC 2014. Aguascalientes. Octubre 2014. Luis de Marcos Ortega (Univ. of Alcalá) Gamification: Breaking videogames, reconstructing reality