Game Research

Blog by the game research group

Expanding the magic circle – gamification as a marketplace icon

Mikolaj Dymek (2017): Expanding the magic circle – gamification as a marketplace icon, Consumption Markets & Culture

This article explores the gamification trend sweeping the globe promising increased engagement and motivation, in practically any industry, context and culture, based on a stratagem of “game design elements in non-game contexts,” which is its most quoted definition.

The rise of gamification as marketplace icon is examined and particularly claims that position gamification as the manifestation of a wider societal transformation into playful societies – a “ludic turn.” Many of these grandiose statements are the result of ahistoricity and ambiguity regarding the definition of gamification.

Based on game philosophy, game studies and gamification research this article posits gamification as an emergent perspective, as distinct conceptualisation, on the rule-driven organisation of sociotechnical management systems that reference “games.” Of particular importance is the role of rules.

Examples such as Frequent Flyer Programmes and Foursquare are analysed according to the player/consumer positions they bestow, which are explored from participatory, co-creational, critical and game philosophical perspectives.

Conclusively, a “gameful” perspective of rule-generated goal-oriented behaviour, or “playful” perspective of instinctive and limitless fun, shed two challenging perspectives on the interpretation of gamification in the marketplace.

The Business of Gamification – A Critical Analysis

Dymek, M., & Zackariasson, P. (Eds.). (2016). The Business of Gamification: A Critical Analysis. Routledge

Gamification has been for several years one of the most discussed topics and concepts within the worlds of IT, management and marketing. In essence gamification is about “applying game mechanisms in non-game contexts” in everything from health care, education, management strategies through loyalty programmes, marketing and communication campaigns, psychology, sustainability, to, of course, different kinds of apps, exercise programmes, intranets, language learning tools, crowdsourcing, as well as (subtly) in most social media design.

The almost exuberant claim to swiftly transform everyday chores into enjoyable game activities, has captivated many parts of society to experiment with this novel notion – sometimes mobilised by shimmering utopian visions of a new, innovative and playful, but equally responsible and productive, everyday life. The downside is, however, that few people actually now how gamification can be created, an even smaller number of successful implementations exist – and in the murky behind-the-scenes looms a rather dismal view of humans in the character of consumers/employees/citizens as obedient pawns for the invisible and powerful game makers that hide behind playful, glitzy and trendy gamification façades.

The Business of Gamification – A Critical Analysis is one of the first edited volumes in the intersection between gamification studies and business. In this volume, edited by Mikolaj Dymek and Peter Zackariasson, various prominent researchers from around the world analyse gamification within leadership, project management, management and organisation, marketing, retailing, online forums, marketing communications, sustainability – but also critical perspectives that fundamentally question the gamification notion as such and instead paint a dystopian vision where every aspect of our everyday lives become part of one omnipresent gamified life environment.

This edited volume is not only relevant for researchers, but for anyone interested in the notion, and expects a critical examination of the biggest IT and management trends of the last decade.

Game AI (artificial intelligence) for storytelling through play

In story-making games, players create stories together by using narrative tokens. Often there is a tension between players playing to win using the rules of a story-making game, and collaboratively creating a good story. 4Scribes is a competitive story-making game  coupled with computational methods intended to be used for both supporting players’ creativity and narrative coherence. It was developed within the frame of the The C2Learn project which was supported by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme.



Keywords: Computational creativity, co-creation, interactive narrative, story-making games, game AI

More information:

On how to install and play the game:
Web-page about the game at the C2Learn website.

A paper focussing on the aspects of designing story making games using methods for computational creativity:
Interweaving Story Coherence and Player Creativity through Story-making Games, Eladhari M.P., Lopes P, and Yannakakis G. The Seventh International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling: Singapore, 3-6 November 2014. Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8832, 2014, pp 73-80.

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