Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 and Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory at York University, Canada

‘Gamification Is Bullshit’

I was reading this hilarious article by Ian Bogost, about gamification and bringing games into real life issues, and since we just finished reading the Reality is Broken I thought it might be  interesting to share this with you.  Ian Bogost  has a great blog as well. He writes on game and game theory. Also writes about object oriented ontology in relation to games and digital media. You can follow him at http://www.bogost.com/

– Ian Bogost is a researcher, designer, and critic who focuses on videogames. He’s a professor at Georgia Tech and a founding partner of Persuasive Games, a videogame studio.

‘Gamification Is Bullshit’By Ian Bogost

In his short treatise On Bullshit, the moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt gives us a useful theory of bullshit. We normally think of bullshit as a synonym–albeit a somewhat vulgar one–for lies or deceit. But Frankfurt argues that bullshit has nothing to do with truth.

Rather, bullshit is used to conceal, to impress or to coerce. Unlike liars, bullshitters have no use for the truth. All that matters to them is hiding their ignorance or bringing about their own benefit.

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.

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

Read the article……..

Fri, January 25 2013 » futurecinema2_2012

6 Responses

  1. damncontrol January 28 2013 @ 8:00 pm

    I think that when you make the analogy with play the idea of a game can be useful. There is a way of changing behavior through play or games that might be somewhat helpful but seen as a panacea it will inevitably lead to the Gamification is bullshit idea. A cult.

  2. Radojka January 29 2013 @ 11:36 am

    I loved the article! Thanks for sharing! The article doesn’t do favor to McGonial’s ideas of braking reality. I’ll add one quote by Frankfurt: “to bullshit means to care more about being interesting than being correct”. If alternate reality games are not able to change reality (in McGonial’s sense), what is that that they can do? They create mere entertainment, for the purpose of making money. Making money is not a ‘bad’ thing, it just isn’t the original idea – to change the world for the better. I’m afraid that, in that case, the idea of breaking reality, suits Ian’s categorization.

  3. Caitlin January 29 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    good conversation. But I’m not sure about your answer to this: “If alternate reality games are not able to change reality (in McGonial’s sense), what is that that they can do?” Is mere money-making entertainment the only possibility besides world-changing pop-psych? What about poetry?

  4. cowboymoses January 29 2013 @ 11:33 pm

    I do believe that gaming of all sorts has the potential to make the world a better place. But the same can be said about all television programming. Potential, it would seem, is not enough. Economics, of course, weigh very heavily on any mass endeavour. How do encourage the development of projects that are intended as tools for social engagement? As Canadians, our first thought will likely be to turn to the various arts councils as our sugar-daddies for social change. This is not the answer. Just as content producers and corporations alike are able to engage an audience beyond the television screen and the shopping mall, the average person now has the soapbox to voice their own aspirations for the world they envision. I now have way more “friends” than I deserve or desire. These “friends” have “friends” and so on, and so on, and so on (1980’s Faberge TV spots). My new “exponential circle of friends” allows for the broadcasting of my campaign to sympathetic and well-connected eyes and ears, who can continue to pass it on. So, why is this not the game? Not immersive enough? Not sufficient escapism from reality? To dangerous to put ourselves, our convictions, on stage. “Dancing is an act of trust.” Maybe we don’t really believe in the world beyond reality? Maybe we think that the only way we can influence or impact anyone or anything is in the real world? Not in the digital. Or maybe not…

  5. sshad January 30 2013 @ 11:03 am

    Can games change anything in the real world?

    I want to answer this with a few questions. How many films have you watched in the past year that made you actually do something about the real world problems? The feelings of rage, happiness, and satisfaction channelled through the expressive medium, even at their best, are ephemeral. This has nothing to do with the capacities of the medium rather it is the incapacity of our cultural and economical structure that cripples such possibilities for a “positive change”. I think we could take this discussion into aesthetic and politics and whether any work of art (video games, films, or paintings) can have a real social and political consequence.

    I do think however that video games can have expressive possibilities, and thus they can evoke emotions and express things in their own terms/language. The idea of catharsis that Jay Bolter is talking about in his article can very much be applied to games because games much like film can evoke intense emotions in their subjects, I would argue even more effectively than films. The reason is that unlike films, games don’t just show us the unfolding of an action through scripts and actors. Games simulate our presence in the action. This simulation makes our emotional response more intense (more real), compare to watching a film or reading a novel.

    The power of video games resides in their ability to simulate our experience. And this computer mediated simulation has long been used in the real world scenarios, mostly in military of course (like training soldiers, design interactive environment for drone pilots, and …) One might argue that the use of games in military is “positive change” too? I think it all depends on what we might mean by the “positive change” or how we might interpret the terms “change” and “real world”.

  6. damncontrol January 30 2013 @ 7:14 pm

    Seems like games can have an influence on behaviour but we may want to act with trepidation in trying to impose too much behaviour modification, the road to hell … and all that. I figure be the change you want to see in the world is about as far as any of us should go when trying to influence others.

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