You are on page 1of 167

Gamification: The Application of Game

Design in Everyday Life

Abstract: As gamification lingers between a world changing concept and a


meaningless buzzword, a more formal approach is needed in order to
understand and elaborate the phenomenon. This thesis aims at clarifying the
dimensions of gamification, assess its current expression, and offer alternative
views and approaches to it. Through the critical analysis of its constituent parts,
it sheds light on the practical, rhetorical and ideological discourse of
gamification. It offers an ontological analysis of the dominant gamification model
and argues against it on the basis of its limits and efficiencies, explaining how
perceiving games as systems is both counterintuitive and counterproductive in
the context of gamification. Instead, it counter-proposes an alternative mindset,
a grounded theory interpreting the motivation of players for engaging and
playing with artifacts. Based on that, it offers a conceptual toolset for
establishing playful mappings between users and artifacts aimed at
gamification designers. As such, a series of functional designs are offered as
exemplifiers of the theoretical arguments presented.

Keywords: Games, Gamification, Game Design, Interaction Design, Social Play,


Reflective Design

Dedicated to all the patient individuals that suffered my gamification rambling for
more than a year. You wholeheartedly deserve it.

Table of Contents
0. Foreword ................................................................................................................................................. 6
1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 7
2. Inquiry: Gamification Now? ................................................................................................................ 13
2.1 Games ............................................................................................................................................. 15
2.1.1 The Hard-Core ........................................................................................................................ 16
2.1.2 The Rise of the Casual Game ........................................................................................... 19
2.1.3 The Internet Experience ........................................................................................................ 25
2.2 Studying the Game ....................................................................................................................... 29
2.2.1 The Theory of the Game ........................................................................................................... 30
2.2.2 Its the Game Design Stupid! ................................................................................................... 32
2.2.3 The Game of Play and the Play of Game ............................................................................... 34
2.3 The Playful Interaction Design ..................................................................................................... 35
2.3.1 Planet Interaction Design: Game Design in Orbit? ........................................................... 36
2.3.3 Persuade to Design or Design to Persuade ....................................................................... 39
2.3.4 The Play of Design ................................................................................................................. 42
2.3.5 The Design of the Critic(al) ................................................................................................... 47
2.3.6 Interaction Design as a Whole Aesthetical Experience .................................................... 50
2.4 Work, Leisure and Play ................................................................................................................. 53
2.4.1 The Values of Work and Leisure .............................................................................................. 55
2.4.2 The Erosive Quality of (Instrumental) Play ............................................................................. 57
2.4.2 The Hole in the Whole ............................................................................................................... 59
2.4.3 The Ideology of the Pointless Point ......................................................................................... 60

3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies............................................................................................ 62


3.1 The model ....................................................................................................................................... 63
3.3.1The Core Activity...................................................................................................................... 63
3.3.2 Tapping into the Activity ........................................................................................................ 64
3.3.3 Investing on the Activity ......................................................................................................... 68
3.2 The Alternatives.............................................................................................................................. 69
3.2.1 The Pull .................................................................................................................................. 70
3.2.2 (Against) Trivialization ............................................................................................................ 83
3.2.3 Reflection ................................................................................................................................. 91
3.2.4 (Regulating) Social Play ........................................................................................................ 97
3.2.5 Coda: Advice on How to Read this Chapter .................................................................... 100
4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals .......................................................................................................... 101
4.1 The Bundy Clock ......................................................................................................................... 102
4.1.1 Points for Consistency ......................................................................................................... 103
4.1.2 The Scout boy Worker ......................................................................................................... 104
4.1.3 The Lenient/Ruthless Clock ................................................................................................ 105
4.1.4 /worked ................................................................................................................................ 106
4.1.5 Office Coffee Cliques, a Game Played at Work............................................................ 108
4.2 The Thankbox .............................................................................................................................. 110
4.3 MovieTaste.................................................................................................................................... 112
4.4 Adult Challengers ........................................................................................................................ 114
5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points ....................................................................................... 116
5.1 Different Clocks, Same Time ..................................................................................................... 116
5.1.1. Points for Consistency or Consistent Points? ................................................................. 116

5.1.2 The Scout boy Worker ......................................................................................................... 118


5.1.3. No Clock is Lenient ............................................................................................................. 120
5.1.4 /worked (Works?) .............................................................................................................. 121
5.1.5 Clique Logon ......................................................................................................................... 123
5.2 Thanking the Box ......................................................................................................................... 124
5.3 The Taste in Movies .................................................................................................................... 125
5.4 Challenging Adults ...................................................................................................................... 126
5.5 Concluding remarks .................................................................................................................... 127
6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification .................................................................................. 128
6.1Gamification Checklist ................................................................................................................. 130
6.2. On, Off, For and Against Criticism and Cynicism .................................................................. 131
6.2.1. Paradox 1, The Belief in Games and the Belief in the Belief in Games ...................... 132
6.2.2. Paradox 2: Belief in Systems ............................................................................................. 134
6.3. (Instead of) Epilogue .................................................................................................................. 135
7. Bibliography........................................................................................................................................ 137
Works Cited ............................................................................................................................................. 137
8. Appendix I ........................................................................................................................................... 148
8.1 Aki Jrvinen .................................................................................................................................. 148
8.2 Jonas Lwgren............................................................................................................................. 152
8.3 Kars Alfrink .................................................................................................................................... 157
8.4 Richard Bartle ............................................................................................................................... 161
8.5 Sebastian Deterding .................................................................................................................... 163

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

0. Foreword

This thesis was written during the course of a year, starting in May 2010 at the IT-University of
Copenhagen. Our inspiration was on fact that even though at the time very much had been
said and written about gamification as a topic and a concept, very little effort had been put for a
systematic and grounded approach.
One year later, we find ourselves paradoxically facing almost the same situation; many
arguments for and against gamification, with proponent and opponents arguing on the blog-osphere whether the future will or will not be gamified. As such, we hope that this text will aid the
readers move beyond the hostilities of the debate and shed some light in its practical,
rhetorical and ideological basis.
This Master's Thesis was researched, developed and written under the supervision of Miguel
Sicart, MTG Head of Department. We would like to acknowledge his invaluable support and
guiding through Masters Thesis, especially when it was mostly needed. Furthermore, we thank
all the interviewees, Aki Jrvinen, Jonas Lwgren, Kars Alfrink, Richard Bartle and Sebastian
Deterding for their valuable time and for sharing their knowledge and opinions.

Chapter: 0. Foreword

Christos Iosifidis

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

1. Introduction

In February 2010, as part of DICE conference, Professor Jesse Schell gave a presentation in
which he drew a possible future where games, or aspects of games, will have invaded every
part of our daily lives (Schell, 2010). Channeled primarily through marketing, games will steer
peoples everyday interactions with services, products and other individuals towards more
focused, overt and engaging experiences. Individuals will be more motivated, more efficient
and happier with very little effort and cost.
The basic principle is that (simple) game design and the power it can have over peoples
behavior will transform our relation with services, products, policies and everything else that
can be monitored, tracked and modeled into gamespace. The core element in such approach
is the use of technology in order to track human behavior. By tracking a multitude of everyday
human actions, businesses and governmental services can set goals for individuals and reward
them for achieving them. The premise is to create a sense of progress through a sequence of
small achievements that are attached to extrinsic rewards. Rewards then can be practical, like
receiving tax breaks for walking three kilometers every day, or aesthetical, such as having a
digital flower growing in your cars dashboard for driving more fuel-efficiently. Thus for Schell
the real strength of such an approach lies in the value of data a monitored human activity can
generate. When tracked, recorded and stored, this data can not only be used for manipulating
behavior through explicit rewards, but more importantly can create a sense of personal
source, they are attached to its legacy.
However the concept was not new; the prescription of game design in non-game uses had
been examined and developed both in theory and practice before and it came with many
names and colors. Gabe Zicherman who is credited with the term funware, advocated for the
use of game mechanics in marketing as a form of game-like loyalty programs:
Funware is the art and science of turning your customers everyday interactions into
games that serve your business purposes. (Zichermann & Linder, 2010, p. 20)

Chapter: 1. Introduction

responsibility through posthumous fame and reputation; since this data can outlive their

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Similarly, Amy Jo Kim suggested that by laying a rewards system onto an existing activity we
are practically creating a meta-game and as such, we can develop it, based on existing
knowledge from game design (Kim, 2009).
But in addition to the theoretical standpoints, practical applications of game design in
marketing had already made their appearance. Bunchball, a technology company, developed
their version of marketing-as-game into a service that integrates points, leader boards,
challenges and leveling in websites. They titled this approach gamification:
[Gamification is the integration of] game dynamics into your site, service, community,
content or campaign, in order to drive participation. (Bunchball.Com, 2010)
Gamification as a term proved not only popular, but also served as an umbrella for a broad
range of concepts that merged games with non-game contexts. Ideas such as Jane
McGonigals concept of distilling problem solving value by playing videogames and Byron
Reeves proposal of using games as means of increasing work productivity became part of the
peculiar space of gamification.
Nonetheless, even though the idea of gamification had not been new, the apocalyptic future
that Schell described shocked even the initiated ones. Fears, obstacles, ethical concerns but
primarily opportunities started springing from all directions; game development professionals,
technologists, interaction designers, marketers and academics. Consequently, the spotlight fell
overnight onto a field that had rarely before met any particular mass media or industry
attention. Game design in general, as well as particular elements of it (game mechanics)
became instantly the epicenter of an effort to create models, methodologies, frameworks,
theories and applications that would utilize its potential outside the realm of games.
This unexplored land opened up the way to an El Dorado effect in the field of digital services;
gamify the whole world1. At the same time different kinds of theorists of design, (and not),
advocated for the potential of applying a game layer on top of things, while the blogosphere,

Scvngr (www.scvngr.com), Badgeville (www.badgeville.com), Booyah (www.booyah.com), Gamify


(www.gamify.com), Veri (www.veri.com) are some of the most known exemplars here.
1

Chapter: 1. Introduction

more than a dozen of new technological startups in the last two years have promised to

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

and the digital press in general, was filled with discussions around badges, points and other
reward systems as well as many arguments about motivation2.
However, despite all the debate, the discussions and the arguments about the use of game
design in non-game applications over the last year, very little has been said about game design
itself. It is thus important before we appropriate any new ways of utilizing game design, to be
able to answer what it is that makes us believe that such an approach can contribute to making
better services, products and interactions in general. Only then, we can examine how game
design can be implemented in the design of non-game applications in meaningful and practical
ways.
Hence this thesis has a threefold goal:
1. To identify the dimensions of gamification and look critically into their past and present,
asking the critical questions of how and why game design has become so relevant into
the design and development of non-game applications. In other words, we need to
situate the reality that makes gamification as a practice and theory applicable in
everyday life. We are not interested in a dry description of gamification, but rather in
building a convincing argument about what gamification means for everyday life, game
design and games at large. As such, we will try to avoid the popular approach of
engaging into an argument about the effectiveness, viability, the social and ethical
concerns of gamification and instead try to analyze the conditions that fertilized it.
2. To critically examine existing gamification methods and propose not only new
approaches which will constitute a conceptual toolset, but also a mindset for designing
gamification solutions.
3. To set the scene for the theory and practice of game design to become part of a
broader disciplinary field responsible for the understanding, design and the

Thus we see several challenges with this thesis. First of all we need to be critical assessors of
all the existing literature, theory and lore on the subject of gamification. We recognize that there
is a lot of hype and buzz surrounding gamification nowadays, so we need to be able to

The phenomenon grew so much, that for many game theorists and designers it was impossible to
escape having, or expressing an opinion about gamification (to name a few see Bogost, 2010; Juul,
2011; Sirlin, 2010).
2

Chapter: 1. Introduction

materialization of products and services.

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

distinguish between future casting, speculation, actual practice and grounded theory in order
to address the current its context.
However, this work is not solely a critical analysis of the existing texts and applications; it spans
into the field of appropriating new ways of using and thinking of game design in non-game
applications. As such we need to address game design in a specific context, a context that is
composed of many different historical, social and cultural realities.
Consequently, we adjudicate to deal with these challenges as a design task in itself and as
such, we need to utilize a method for approaching it. We are inspired by Lwgren and
Stoltermans division of the design process in five distinct phases (inquiry, exploration,
composition, assessment, coordination) and we are adapting it in the context of this work to fit
the modalities of text. As Lwgren and Stolterman successfully note, a design method is never
simply used but rather appropriated (Lwgren & Stolterman, 2004), thus we are not just
prescribing a methodological pattern but we interpret this five step process as a way of thinking
and reflecting upon our task. Hence, we also have to remain conscious about the
shortcomings of our approach; approaching gamification as a design issue entails design
assumptions that are fundamentally subjective. Thus, we would like to abdicate any objectivity
over our normative approach; our proposals, solutions and conclusions are the results of a
subjective interpretive approach and as such they should not be regarded as absolute truths.
In Chapter 2, we start with inquiring the current design situation, the context in which a
discussion about using game design in everyday life is relevant. We examine the realities that
constitute this context in an effort to connect the historical, cultural and social developments
with the present theory, practice and criticism of gamification. More specifically, we shall look
into three components of gamification, videogames, the academic study of games and
interaction design.

penetration across multiple levels. Over the last decade we have witnessed a radical
transformation of the type of videogames played, their audiences and the developers that
create them. We believe that gamification as a phenomenon has developed over these
transformations and in order to appropriate it as such, we need to understand them. For this
task, we will look into the scholarly study of games as an emerging academic field; we focus on
the development of game design theory as an interpretive tool for comprehending the
motivation behind gamification. We will also look into interaction design as the institutional

Chapter: 1. Introduction

We start with videogames because we see gamification as an extension of their cultural

1
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

field responsible for the design of interactive products and services. We are particularly
interested in the tradition of play in interaction design both as a design method (Ehn, Sjgren,
& Mllerud, 1992) and as a design subject (Gaver W. W., 2002), as well as examining how
gamification as a process can be interpreted by interaction design.
Finally, we try to summarize our inquiry with an investigation of the role of work, leisure and
play in everyday life, giving an ideological interpretation to gamification.
Then we move onto an exploration phase (Chapter 3), where we will explore the space of
possible dimensions of embedding game design in everyday life. We examine the dominant
gamification model not only as it is deployed by commercial practitioners, but also on
theoretical and conceptual levels, elaborating its core principles. We then compose an
alternative mindset of gamification, drawing distance from the dominant model and offer views
and formulations of possible attitudes and practices which we believe will enable designers in
the future to expand the landscape of possibilities for gamification.
After redrawing the possibility space, we then utilize it to compose our design proposals
(Chapter 4). Made as functional design concepts, we treat our proposals not as suggestive
products themselves, but as the outcomes of an investigative process that have been
developed and evolved simultaneously in our design process.
As such, we are using them here as mediums for a critical analysis (Chapter 5), in which we
attempt o reexamine our assertions and assumptions in a reflective and learning manner
(assessment phase). We are not interested here in the actual commercial potential of our
design proposals but whether the hypotheses they were developed upon can enable new
dimensions in the way we treat the application of game design in everyday life.
In summary, we attempt a first step towards a coordination process (Chapter 6); we lay down a
offer a perspective to the possible futures of gamification.
Finally we offer the reader a broader spectrum of opinions, ideas and answers to the questions
we asked ourselves. In appendix I, there is the transcripts of a series of interviews we
conducted in October 2010 with many influential designers and theoreticians that had taken a
very active role in the existing dialogue about gamification and share their views on its past,
present and possible future.

Chapter: 1. Introduction

comprehensive account of our arguments in an effort to structure our extracted knowledge and

1
1

May 2, 2011

Chapter: 1. Introduction

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

1
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

As we have already mentioned, we regard our pursuit to examine the possibilities of applying
game design in everyday life as a design challenge. As such, we need to firstly examine the
broader context of such a challenge. We need to be able to explain not only our motives but
also the practical, theoretical and social dimensions that make these motives relevant.
Consequently, we need to understand how we have reached the point where not only the
discussion, but also the actual practice of game design is stretching beyond games and
reaches real life applications. For this, we need to encapsulate a design situation that spans
beyond the scope of how we can practically employ game elements in product and service
design. It is our firm belief that in order to be able to describe design processes that use game
design outside its original scope and purpose, we need to be able to comprehend the realities
that urge us to invent and prescribe such processes.
Thus before we prescribe the epistemology of gamification we need to capture its ontology. For
example, as Nocera illustrates, the concept of credit card as a replacement for palpable
printed money could only be implemented on a commercial scale during the historical and
replacing existing practices with game mechanics or embedding game design elements in
marketing campaigns makes practical and evolutionary sense in the context of contemporary
life; in other words, why gamification as a concept can become a reality now.
In order to do so, we must uptake the role of the researcher, trying to interpret the present by
creating a coherent narrative drawn from the past and spanning tenaciously to the future. For
that, we will not only examine the events, trends and historical developments that led to such a
state in retrospect, but also the context that these occurred in.
In the following parts we identify three constituents of gamification and attempt an analysis on
how they have come to converge into the gamification present. We start by examining games,
and particularly videogames, as the field which has the most detrimental effect on everyday life.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

financial realities of the 1960s (Nocera, 1995). Similarly, we need to be able to understand why

1
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

We shall examine how videogames have been transformed over the last ten years, changing
the paradigm from a commodity targeted to male teenagers, to a widespread pastime activity.
Our effort is to trace the social, cultural and technological events that were part of this
transformative process and connect them in order to compose the present of gamification.
We thus see gamification as a phenomenon, a reality that is partly theory, partly practice and
mostly a possible future, a state that many aspire and even more deprecate. We understand
then that gamification as an issue is subjected to a great deal of speculation and exaggeration
and as such, we feel that before examining it, we must frame it in realistic proportions.
Consequently, we must answer what gamification is and what it means, avoiding the utopian
and dystopian motives that are so often attached to it.
As such, we will then look into the academic and theoretical developments of the study of
games. We shall examine how game rhetorics have diffused not only in popular culture, but
also in academia; we will indentify common threads between the developments of the
systematic study of games, the rise of videogames as a cultural phenomenon and commercial
game development. Our focus is the scholarly examination and criticism of game design as a
field of practice and how this process pushed the boundaries of both our understanding of
games as well as their effects on the players.
We shall also look into the developments in the field of interaction design research and
practice; the field that has had an almost institutional role in the development of electronic
goods and services over the last decade. The nature of our investigation is twofold; on one
hand we are interested in the way that interaction design as a broad discipline can
interaction design that have been pushing towards a convergence if not a complete bridging
with these of game design. Our secondary target is to identify the reasons that such
approaches and practices have been kept away from the present expression of gamification
and what can be learned from them.
Interaction design has a far older, stronger and more concrete theoretical and practical basis in
the design of interactive services and products than game design and as such, we believe that
it should not be excluded from an examination of gamification. Its grounded theory and rich
practice can be the basis for a gamification approach that can be the foundations upon which a
broader disciplinary field could evolve.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

accommodate game design. We shall look into existing practices, methods and mindsets in

1
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Finally, we will bring this triptych together in order to examine the core concepts that underlie
games, game design and interaction design; we identify the notions of work and leisure as the
epicenter of a greater transformation in the social and individual sphere of everyday life. We will
follow that transformation through time and we try an interpretation of gamifications ideological
extensions.

2.1 Games
Gamification is not about games, in fact as a subject gamification is deals with everything else
but games. Despite the irony here, the modus operandi of gamification advocates and
practitioners is to focus on services, products and campaigns that are not games (i.e. applying
game design knowledge on non-game contexts). Hence games in the current perception of
gamification are of secondary order; games and gamification are only indirectly connected
through game design which in turn is perceived as a static entity, directing the design of both
games and gamification solutions.
In this part, our effort is to show that gamification is indeed much closer to games than the
current thinking positions it. To do so, we will examine the historical trajectory of videogames
over the last two decades. We choose videogames, because they have been the primary
expression of games in modern culture and concentrate the essence of game diffusion across
society and technology. We specify that period, because during that time we witnessed a

Of course we realize the difficulty in encapsulating the historical trajectory of videogames, let
alone their cultural and social impact, in just a few pages. Nonetheless, we can identify the
major historical factors that contributed to the evolution of the technology, business, design
and culture of videogames and try to appropriate their meaning; it is in our view, the first step
towards an understanding of the amplitude and magnitude videogames posses right now in
our everyday lives.
Perhaps the first and most significant point we must focus on is indeed the present;
videogames are everywhere is the critical thesis of many gamification advocates (see Schell,
2010; Zichermann & Linder, 2010) and is indeed true. Over the last decade we have witnessed
an explosion of videogames with more individuals across all ages playing them. The diversity

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

tremendous transformation of videogames as a medium, as technology and as business.

1
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

of that audience spans not only beyond sex, but also age, social and ethnic groups; more
people are spending more time and more money on videogames (Graft K. , 2010).
However, in order to reach that point a significant change had to happen; the stereotype of the
male teenage gamer had to be overcome.

2.1.1 The Hard-Core


The stereotype of the male teenage gamer has been historically elevated to a status of a crosscultural phenomenon3, engaging popular media, public opinion, academia, even the market of
videogames itself in a vicious circle that often led them trapped inside it. This phenomenon
was manifested through what we call the hard-core videogames complex, a set of
interconnected relationships between developers, publishers, specialized press and gamers
that gave rise to a videogame culture of exclusion.
Tracing such complex is a complicated task since it involves many factors that are difficult to
untwine. Perhaps the best angle of approach is the examination of the innovation model that
the videogames industry based its growth during the 1990s. After the bust of the 1980s 4,
videogames had not only to be reintroduced to the market, but also to present convincing
innovation developments. It was at that point that we trace a clear disposition from the

One might express the view that the growth trajectory of the videogames industry historically
had never been independent of the overall technological one and indeed the former was based
on the advancements of the latter (i.e. microchips). However, during the 1990s, the
development of videogames was clearly orientated towards pushing the technological
boundaries it was operating under.

It is perhaps indicative that so many reports from both Asia and North America about young
adolescents that have died out of exhaustion after playing videogames non-stop for days have made the
major news networks over the last years (for example, see Chinese online gamer dies after three-day
session (BBC News, 2011) and Nintendo getting sued over wrongful death (Berghammer, 2002))
4
See Kline et al. Ch.6 for a detailed examination of the ramifications of the 1980s videogames industry
bust.
3

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

industrys side to connect its own growth trajectory with that of technological advancements.

1
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

The manifestation of this innovation strategy took shape with a peculiar razor and blades
business model5. The core concept of which was to push on the market very use-specific
hardware at under-cost prices in order to increase sales on videogame software, which was
sold at a significantly high profit margin. However, by trying to sustain high technological
innovation, videogame hardware (gaming consoles, 3D acceleration cards) remained
significantly expensive (See Figure 1) even when marketed below development costs. This
subsequent result was the exclusion of a broad customer base that could not, or would not,
invest a considerable amount of their disposable income to get into the videogames market.

Figure 1. Videogame console prices, adjusted for inflation (Source: Gizmodo, 2006)

Such individuals would not only invest actual capital but also personal capital (time &
attention), consequently taking an almost active role to the way videogames evolved as a
medium. Videogames were designed around a very specific and tight target audience which in
turn would engage with the medium on a personal level, essentially generating a climate of
See Kline, et al. 2003, Ch.5 for a more elaborative analysis of the manifestation of the Razor and Blades
model from the videogames industry.
5

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

Thus the target was that small segment of the market that would make such an expensive leap.

1
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

cultural introversion. This recycling of game design, thematic, experiences and culture at
large, has not only segmented the market to a small audience, but also penetrated culture and
society, feeding it with bad stereotypes and fears about videogame players and videogames in
general. Such a divisive factor not only added additional entry barriers in the market, but has
contributed to the perplexity with which gaming is often still faced.
Consequently, gamification as one can easily imagine, could never be enabled on a broad
scale under the prism of the hard-core videogames complex and indeed as we shall examine in
the next section abolishing it was the first step. Both technological and rhetorical
transformations would have to occur before videogames become an activity for a broader
audience instead of a selected few. However, despite the barriers the hard-core videogames
complex raised for the democratization of gaming and consequently for gamification, it
enclosed in its core a concept that, we argue, has been the basis of the inspiration of
gamification; engagement. Engagement in the sense of the fervor with which hard-core gamers
partake not only the act of playing videogames, but also with the medium and its culture(s).
As such we view this engagement of the hard-core players with all aspects of the hard-core
videogames complex as an ideal for gamification. In fact, engagement as a concept is very
often cited as the holy grail of gamification and indeed is rapidly conquering a very significant
position in contemporary rhetorics of economics and business administration. From this

engagement and loyalty hard core gamers portray with the tedious, trivial office workspaces in
contemporary businesses. Reeves and Read for example, in their book Total Engagement pick
up the playing behavior of MMO6 gamers in order to shape a paradigm of processes and
guidelines that executives should practice. Similarly, Zicherman in his book, Game-based
Marketing, is using console gamers usage data to portray how devoted these gamers are to
their gaming activity in comparison to other kinds of consumer behavior.

Massively Multiplayer Online (Games)

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

position, many gamification advocates embellish their arguments by juxtaposing the

1
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Our point here is not to classify hard-core gamers from non hard-core but to highlight the role
of the hard-core videogames complex in the existing rhetorics of gamification. We witnessed a
transition in the examination of hard-core videogames and gamers, from dismissive skepticism
to a more open approach that underlies admiration and colonialism; from marginal
phenomenon of subculture, to a model that enables opportunities and can be exported into
other fields:
A brief perusal of Yahoos World of Warcraft widow support group is a reminder that
time dedicated to game-play can lead to unpaid bills, unbathed children, and unwalked
dogs. Still question the power of games? (Zichermann & Linder, 2010, p. 33)
In fact, these kinds of rhetorics are not only limited to gamers and games, but very often game
developers themselves are viewed operating under the limitations of the hard-core videogames
complex:
Many independent game developer shops are trying to feed content to a handful of
publishers who have strong distribution capabilities. Most have dreams of writing the
next World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto but are having to work hard just to keep their
heads above water and might welcome the chance for paid work helping you execute
on your vision. (Reeves & Read, 2009, p. 239)
However, even though we trace the rhetorical roots of gamification in the hard-core
videogames complex, we do not perceive rhetorics as the most significant contribution of

videogames that was brought by casual games.

2.1.2 The Rise of the Casual Game


Even though as we argued in the previous part gamification was inspired by the hard-core
videogames complex, it would never be enabled before it was abolished on a broad social
level. The necessary transformation came through a technological revolution that changed not
only the way videogames were made and perceived, but society and technology in general.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

videogames in gamification. For that we will have to look into the democratization of

1
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

The rise of personal electronic devices, small electronic devices and affordable computers was
the catalyst for an unprecedented transformation of human-technology relations. As the need
for increased productivity grew larger in an information age, it became clear that the
topographical boundaries of digital technology had to be pushed; digital technology remained
mainly stationary until the beginning of the 1990s7. Thus as they became more mobile and
affordable, cell phones, digital organizers and computers started moving away from the
productivity-oriented environments of work, following their users back to their homes.
Positioned in different contexts, these devices started being used and operated not as work
tools, but as facilitators of social and personal life, essentially intruding the whole spectrum of
everyday life activities.
The immediate consequence of such a transition in context was a discord between the
intended and actual usage of these technological artifacts. Digital devices such as mobile
phones were originally designed for work contexts and as such, they were oriented towards
productivity and efficiency. But as they moved away from the workplace, in the pockets of their
owners, these phones were transformed into leisure devices used to enrich the personal and
social interactions of their users.
The demand was soon picked up by the market, which started embedding functional
characteristics into these digital devices that spanned way beyond productivity; ring-tones,

personal electronic devices went hand in hand with the rise of a new market that was set to
transform these productivity-oriented devices into artifacts that can be used for leisure.
One could easily see the opportunities for the videogames industry here; a broad new
audience that already possessed the means to run videogame software and was indeed eager
to embed it into their lives, could enable a new massive market for videogames. However
before that could happen, two important obstacles had to be overcome.

Of course mobile computing and mobile phones were commercially used even before the 1990s, but
such realities were true for a selected few. By setting the chronological bar in the 1990s we are trying to
include mobile digital technology that was massively availably on a broad commercial scale.
7

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

wallpapers, image/video capturing/playback and of course videogames. Thus the rise of

2
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

First and foremost, development platforms in this new context had to be appropriated
differently. This widely available mobile technology was far from game consoles and high end
gaming PCs; their specifications and limitations were not controlled by the videogames
industry and thus they had to be seen as external constants in the development process.
Consequently, the technologically oriented development model had to be abandoned;
technology no longer acted as a carrier of innovation but as just a carrier of the videogame.
Secondly, the needs, demands and consequently the expectations of this new audience had
been incommensurate to that already offered by the industry. The new potential players had
limited or no familiarity with the hard-core games, underdeveloped skills for understanding and
playing them and no evident incentive to put the effort into it. They were characterized, as
Jesper Juul describes it, by an unrefined player repertoire:
During your lifetime, you collect knowledge from the games you play, and you use that
knowledge for understanding new games. [] To play a new game is to learn new
skills and conventions. [] Your playing of that game paves the way for playing future
games. (Juul, A Casual Revolution, 2010, pp. 76-77)
It is thus obvious that the supply for this new type of players had to be radically different from
the existing, not only in terms of technology but also design, essentially shifting the orientation
of the innovation model. This meant a change in the growth paradigm for the videogames
industry; moving from a technology-centric approach, to a new model where the main effort is

expectations and repertoire of this new audience.


This dilemma, termed as the innovators dilemma (Christensen & Raynor, 2003), blinded
most established players in the market who failed to seize the opportunity, sticking to their
sustaining innovation model in fear of alienating their existing audience. This opened the space
for new players to set a new trajectory of disruptive innovation in the field of videogames and
claim this audience for their own. Indeed this demand was addressed by companies like
PopCap and Big Fish which targeted for a broad audience with limited player repertoire by
pushing simple, low cost games that could run on this new easily accessible technology.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

on appropriating the opportunities that mobile technology is enabling, in relation to the

2
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 2. Bejeweled, PopCap Games (left), Azada, Big Fish Games (right)

Casual games8, as they are termed, like Bejewled and Azada (Figure 2), became commercial
breakthroughs, encapsulating the spirit of accessibility not only in the range of platforms and
hardware they can run on, but also in their design. In his book A Casual Revolution, Juul
attributes to casual game design the primary role in the success of casual games, since as he
explains:
it gives a game a flexibility that allows the players to use it in different ways. (Juul, A
Casual Revolution, 2010, p. 62)
For Juul, flexibility is what differentiates casual games from hard-cores, a use quality/design
affordance that is channeled through five distinct design components/attributes of casual game

1. Positive fiction. The familiarity and overall presentation of the settings, casual games are
set in are positive (e.g. sports, restaurants, popular cartoons etc.) whereas hard-core
games are very often based on unfamiliar and aggressive settings (e.g. war, aliens,
horror etc.).
2. User friendliness and usability. While hard-core games require a high level of
familiarization along with a refined skill set (player repertoire), casual games rely on

It is not our intention, nor in the scope of this thesis, to provide a sufficient definition for casual games
but to extract some basic denominators that are shared among these new types of games.
8

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

design:

2
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

interfaces and skills that can be picked up by players with much unembellished
repertoire.
3. Better gameplay time management. Casual games allow for easier interruptibility as
Juul terms the affordance of a game allowing the player to interrupt the game session.
In other words, casual games do not require from their players lengthy time slots for
playing, allowing them to interrupt play at any time. Essentially, casual games make it
easier for the player to manage their overall gameplay time.
4. Forgiving gameplay and scalable difficulty. Extra design effort is put on the learning
curve of casual games and how they handle failure; they must allow the player to take
small incremental steps towards difficulty while administer failure with forgiveness (not
necessarily leniency).
5. Positive feedback. Casual games are often characterized by an excess of positive
feedback to the player that is not only expressed literally but also aesthetically. (Juul, A
Casual Revolution, 2010)
Thus flexibility in casual game design for Juul addresses the relationship between game and
game player directly. Although flexibility as a use quality can be easily transferable to a playertechnology examination, Juul exhausts his analysis of casual game design with a crossexamination of game and player, in an effort to bridge a methodological gap between two

The better solution is to see how a game can be more or less flexible toward being
played in different ways, and a player can be more or less flexible toward what a game
asks of the player. (Juul, A Casual Revolution, 2010, p. 53)
We believe that there is a significant factor to casual game design missing here; technology, as
we have described in the beginning of this part, shaped both casual game design and game
players. As such, the transformation of the use context for the technology that casual games
are developed and played on altered the act of gaming both temporally and spatially.
It couldnt be otherwise. Moving away from the stativity of the hard-core gamer, who is
delimited by the immobility of the game console and the TV, to a mobile gamer that can

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

schools of thought, the player centric view and the game centric one:

2
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

potentially play anywhere, requires an examination of casual game design that goes beyond
the player and the game. Thus along the casualization of game design, we also have to
consider its mobilization. As much as gameplay became more flexible, leaving the boundaries
of the hard-core videogames, so did the play-space, which now can be traced across all
topographies of daily life. Parks, buses, toilets and even work; videogames started elbowing
in spaces and times that would otherwise be considered dead, like commuting, waiting, and
small work breaks, essentially becoming part of the everyday routine for many individuals, not
in the hard-core, ritualistic mode but in a time-killer activity sense.
Thus casual game design not only allowed for videogames to enter into the lives of ordinary
individuals, but to also penetrate ordinary life as an activity. In that sense, we can speak of a
democratization of videogames; as videogames break free of the hard-core videogames
complex, they move in the hands of the ordinary, but they also move into the topographical
spectrum of ordinary life. Games are indeed everywhere nowadays, but that is because people
started seeking them everywhere; games are also becoming parts of the lives of many, but that
is because many have figured out how they can become such.
For gamification, this process signals the beginning of possibilities. As videogames populated
the daily routines of millions through the Trojan horse of casual games, we are faced with a
rhetorical dissonance; how do we overcome the hard-core videogames complex and examine

videogames coming from different angles, from academia, to publishers, developers and
press. New journalistic movements, like the New Games Journalism, new game distribution
channels, like digital downloads and new genres of videogames, like social games, came
along the last decade as a result of such a re-examination of videogames. Similarly, we believe
that gamification can be viewed a broader interpretive approach of the phenomenon of
videogames democratization as seen from a cross-examination between business and
marketing. Thus if the hard-core videogames complex has been the inspiration of gamification,
the abolishment of it has enabled its actualization.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

the phenomenology of this process? This question gave rise to new approaches towards

2
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

2.1.3 The Internet Experience


In the previous part we argued that the democratization of videogames required a reinterpretation of the medium both as an artifact and as an activity. However, one might also
rightfully argue that products are always in a constant state of re-examination and reinterpretation by their makers/developers, who seek new technological advancements in order
to increase their value. Indeed, even though the argument is valid, we believe that in such
transformative processes, external factors and phenomena act as signifiers for the need for
action and change, while technology acts as an accelerator of this evolutionary process.
We thus make the argument here, that the abolishment of the hard-core videogames complex
and the democratization of videogames only enabled the upcoming transformation by
broadening the horizons for videogames; the actual transformation was materialized and took
shape by the rapid expansion of the internet.
We do realize that discussing the development of the internet, especially over the last decade,
is indeed a hard task; how could the word internet incorporate the breadth and depth of
change that is still ongoing in multiple dimensions? Hence we perceive and use the term here
in a literal and instrumental sense; as a global computer network that eliminates distances for
the exchange of information, communication and interaction. As such, in the sphere of

commoditization of goods and services:


Indeed, the Internet is the greatest force of commoditization ever known to man, for
both goods and services. It eliminates much or the human element in traditional buying
and selling. Its capability for friction-free transactions enables instant price comparisons
across myriad sources. (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, pp. 10-11)
Thus as internet connectivity, speed and mobility kept growing exponentially over the last
decade, the videogames industry, along with all other industries, faced the hard realities of
commoditization. Pine and Gilmore describe this point in time as a milestone in a long
evolutionary process of businesses; they argue that goods and services must undergo a
development process in order to reform and increase their value or get commoditized and

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

businesses and economy, the power of the internet translates into the driving force for

2
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

become plain resources. Consequently, goods and services must enter the field of experience
economy, where businesses no longer sell plain goods or services, but holistic experiences
that customers evaluate higher and thus are willing to pay more for.
However this transition is neither static nor modeled uniformly for all goods and services; this
means that there is a continuum of variable states between commoditization and experience
that businesses can explore and operate, as they try to find the optimal value of their goods
and services. Pine and Gilmore term this continuum as the progression of economic value,
since the more commoditized a good or a service is, the less value consumers see in it (see
Figure 3).

The points to be stressed out here are that commoditization as process is pushing
businesses to reexamine their best operative state. This does not mean that all businesses will
be pushed out to the ends of this spectrum; there will still be some operating in goods and
services, but certainly the competition margins will make most of them pursue better value in
the experience economy end or compete for lower prices in the commodities part. Thus with
the advent of experience economy we are faced with the paradox of the two ends (see Figure

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

Figure 3. The progress of economic value (source: Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 22)

2
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

4); as more and more businesses move onto transforming their experiences into products and
services, these products and services become heavily commoditized9.

Figure 4. The paradox of the two ends in experience economy.

For videogames and primarily for the videogames market, that transition is primarily comprised
of a radical change in the distribution model. The retail model gave way to digital distribution
channels which meant faster, more approachable services with lower operating costs for the
videogame consumers. Old and new videogame publishers and distributors utilized the
internet and turned the acquisition and access to videogames software into a service, operated
centrally. With this core concept at the center of such a transition, we have witnessed varying

However, even though all these models are employing digital publishing and distribution
channels, they are all focusing on different levels of commoditization of videogames. While
services like Steam and Direct2Drive are putting more emphasis on discount strategies, gifting
and sharing among friends, Microsofts Xbox Live service is targeting the competitive and
explorative aspect of players by using an achievements system which rewards active players. It
becomes apparent then, that the goal here is to alter the relationship between the player, the
videogame and the provider. In that relationship, the videogame itself is commoditized, while

In other words, the consumers willingness to buy is evolved around the choice for a memorable
experience or a very low price commodity.
9

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

models that are clearly aiming to reposition videogames in the new experience economy.

2
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

the emphasis is on the experience of using the service and interacting with other users and
friends.
Perhaps the most evident example of this transformation lies in social games, multiplayer
games that are using social networks (primarily Facebook) as publishing and distribution
platforms. Social games are not just MMOs, but rather highly commoditized videogames which
operate on top of existing social strata and aim at enriching and extending the interactions
between the players/members. As such, most social games are offered for free, operating on
a free2play model that allows everyone to participate, but then selling richer social interactions
for those that are willing to pay for the premium. Thus both players/consumers and
developers/publishers relationships with the game itself are of second order; for the former
the game is only the means with which they can enact social interactions in the digital social
network, while for the latter it is the means with which they can capitalize on these interactions.
Thus as videogames are entering the realm of experience economy, they too are faced with the
inescapable paradox of commoditization; videogames as artifacts are getting commoditized
and the signals from these new approaches are the evidence of this transformation.
What does this mean for gamification? We see the shift of the videogames into the field of
experience economy and their subsequent commoditization as a core expression of

the experience economy for all fields of production and services, the models for such a
transition are yet under exploration. As such, many attempts not only are focusing in ad-hoc
approaches but on generalized models that could potentially be applied for all goods and
services. We thus view the current approach of gamification as such an attempt. By drawing
paradigms from these exploratory models we have presented here, proponents of gamification
have been advocating for transitioning the consumer-producer relationship into the field of
experience economy through the path that videogame publishers and developers use.
But we also see the commoditization of videogames as part of the current expression of
gamification. While videogames value as artifacts becomes harder to retain, it is natural to see

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

gamification. We argued earlier that even though the internet is speeding the transition towards

2
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

them used as a form of magic dust; the argument is that if videogames can be given out for
free as part of a service, they could also be used in any other service. We thus believe that
arguments such as using game mechanics to transform services and products can only be
seen as a consequence of this low perceived value of games and game mechanics.

2.2 Studying the Game


In the previous segment, we tried to sketch the connections between gamification and games
as they have evolved over the last years. In the last part we concluded that apart from the
business and practice of videogame development, the systematic, scholarly study of
videogames has also been a significant contributing factor that shaped the current gamification
situation.
Traditionally, games had been the study subject of scholars that are interested in historical,
social and cultural aspects of human activity and as such, they had always been studied in
relation to something else. In our examination above, we tried to establish a level of
chronological continuity in order to connect the evolution of videogames with events and
phenomena that took place in a broader cultural, social and historical context.

contexts and as such, videogames as artifacts do reflect the developments and processes that
take place in these contexts. Thus we believe that there is an aspect of a continuous exchange
between games, society, culture, history and technology.
It couldnt be otherwise; our examination shows that games have changed considerably in very
short time, a change that is reflected in the ontology and epistemology of our everyday life. A
change which has also been reflected in academia, where we also witnessed an
unprecedented effort to approach videogames in a scientific manner in order to understand
their nature as well as the relationship people develop with them on individual and social scale.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

All games are made and played by people who are part of greater social, cultural and historical

2
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

2.2.1 The Theory of the Game


It would be nonsensical to consider that such a sheer diffusion of videogames would pass
unnoticed by the academic and scholarly world. In fact, videogames have been scrutinized,
examined and analyzed more than ever before over the last decade. Thus, in parallel with a fast
growing and rapidly changing industry, the need for the development of a scholarly space that
would allow for videogames to be examined as an independent field of study and practice
emerged.
Game Studies is the term that is used to describe the new academic field that brings together
scholars who want:
to shed new light on games, rather than simply use games as metaphor or illustration
of some other theory or phenomenon. (Aarseth, 2001)
As such, game studies have been characterized by a strong multidisciplinarism and a drive to
set games in the center of epistemic analysis. Of course these two characteristics were a result
of the historical and academic environment that this new field emerged in. On one hand, there
was a big knowledge gap between games as a scholarly subject and games as the product of
a fast growing industry, while at the same time there was a wide lack of academic precedence
in academic practices and research approaches for studying games. As a consequence, Game

conventions from a wide range of already established disciplines.


Thus under the umbrella of game studies, many different angles of examining games started to
emerge; from the technological aspects of videogames to the cultural and social ramifications
of virtual worlds and the business of game development, game studies attempted to fill that
knowledge gap at a very fast pace. Naturally this polyphony resulted in an abundance of new

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

Studies have been populated primarily by scholarly immigrants, drawing influences and

3
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

ideas and voices which joined not only the core of game studies but also its now formulating
periphery10.
It is in these theoretical incubators that we position many of the scholarly approaches to
gamification that have emerged over the last years. In the previous part we argued that even
though gamification has often been advocated in disassociation with games, there are deep
rhetorical and ideological roots that connect the two. Similarly we argue here that game studies
have been the basis of the theoretical and analytical argumentation of gamification.
Indeed a closer look at the evolution of game studies over the years and especially the trends
on research will reveal that the context of examination has changed dramatically. After the initial
years of setting the videogame in the epicenter of the epistemic research, we have witnessed a
gradual shift towards more post-phenomenological examinations. Initially with a broadening of
the research context to include the player and then extending it even further to the player-game
relationship, the focus over the last few years has been displaced towards the player
experience. As such, this gave rise to more holistic approaches and as a result, elements
outside the strict boundaries of games became part of the examination (see the Contextual
Game Experience model, Myr, 2007 and the Model for Expanded Game Experience
Kuittinen, Kultima, Niemel, & Paavilainen, 2007). By including experiential factors that exist
outside the boundaries of the game or the play session, we displace our focus from (game)

by theoretically and rhetorically exposing the game in such broader contexts, a crossexchange of rhetorics and analysis between these elements was enforced, essentially setting
the research context beyond the spectrum of the player/game relationship. We thus see
gamification as a consequence of that rhetorical/research spillage.
However, this phenomenon should not be seen unidimensionally; the extension of the research
context has also been the catalyst for a quick and dynamic growth in the field of game studies.

One should be amazed how until the mid-90s academic publications on games spanned to under a
dozen every year, while in 2010 there are more than a dozen of academic journals focusing solely on
videogames.
10

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

actions to player (emotions), to (social) interactions/meanings/consequences. Consequently,

3
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

A significant and valuable body of knowledge has started to formulate; by researching games,
not only a knowledge gap is filled, but that knowledge can be applied in a broader scope that
surmounts games themselves. By understanding games, we can reflect upon society,
technology, culture, and popular ideology and we can appropriate them in new ways, applying
that knowledge to transform them.
It is also on this body of knowledge that gamification is basing its theoretical standpoints. We
could argue that gamification is using this knowledge as a basis for re-interpreting the role of
games in everyday life and integrating them in a way that will aid the growth and innovation of a
broader videogame market. Hence, it shouldnt surprise us that the majority of gamification
advocates have emerged and operated from within this broader scholarly examination of
games.
However, there are two particular aspects in this scholarly effort that stand out; the study of
game design and the study of play, a combination that has the transformative power to alter
both the perception and constitution of our ontology.

2.2.2 Its the Game Design Stupid!


Perhaps the most significant contribution of game studies has been the documentation and

relatively unknown to everyone else outside the games industry, where it had been exercised
on the basis of lore and intuition, remaining largely undocumented as a practice and underexposed to theoretical analysis and criticism. This obscure status of game design was radically
changed with the advent of the systematic approach to game research and development.
Starting with professional designers at first and followed by scholars who could see that game
design should have a core position in game studies, a collective effort to devise and document
a cohesive and coherent language that could help understand games as artifacts started to
emerge.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

development of game design theory. Before the rise of game studies, game design had been

3
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

In the years that followed, game design was recognized and understood as the primary tool for
conveying and designing the player experience. As such, game design became the field of
experimentation and innovation for games; the study and development of game design beyond
the borders of its existing practice, enabled game developers to suggest and develop new play
experiences that could engage players in new ways. Undoubtedly, the changes and evolution
of games over the last decade wouldnt have been feasible, at least not at such rates, without a
collective effort to understand, define and explore game design as a discipline. Similarly we see
gamification as an attempt to take game design outside the field of games, to redefine it by
giving it new shapes and contexts.
However, as with all domains of design, this process assumes a constant assessment, criticism
and negotiation in order to align theory and practice with the realities they operate in. Thus,
due to its rapid growth, game design is often seen as being in a constant state of flux, where
truths and answers are constantly seeking new balances. Hence, along with revision and
opportunities, confusion and doubt appear. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions and
misunderstandings about game design which span from mass media (it has been quite
common that mass media, even well respected ones have shown shocking ignorance of game
design in their coverage of games or their culture. See Guardian, 2010, Johnson, 2008,
McCabe, 2008 and Murray-Watson, 2007) to people that often refer to it (a good example of

in a buzz-word fashion without showing any signs of understanding their meaning) and actual
practitioners of it (individuals that do practice game design, but without acknowledging it).
Confusions such as these though, only emphasize the importance of a constant scientific study
of games and indeed this text would not be, if game design could be solidified and described
in a stable state. Indeed if gamification has proven something, it is that in order to push further
the boundaries games and game design, a widespread social edification about games must
occur, a state that Zimmerman terms, gaming literacy:
Gaming literacy turns the tables on the usual way we regard games. Rather than
focusing on what happens inside the artificial world of a game, gaming literacy asks

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

this is actually many individuals that use terms such as gamification and game mechanics

3
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

how playing, understanding, and designing games all embody crucial ways of looking
at and being in the world. (Zimmerman, Gaming Literacy: Game Design as Model for
Litaracy in the 21st Century, 2009, p. 188)
It is thus our belief that game design has an adhesive quality; it lies between the academic
development of games studies, games themselves and their evolution into a massive popular
phenomenon. Indeed, in a situated reality where videogames are part of our daily life and
culture, the epistemological effort is not, and should not be, limited to a descriptive role, but to
an exploratory one. By pointing at possibilities that open up with the understanding of the
player-game relationship, scholars of games can draw the layout in which game design can
materialize into the connective element between games and play at large.

2.2.3 The Game of Play and the Play of Game


However, along with new appropriations of game design the need for understanding new
instantiations of play emerged. In recent years, we have been witnessing a turn in game
studies on the examination model for games. Many game scholars have displaced the focus
from games themselves to the phenomenology of the act of playing with games. By studying
the player instead of the game, theorists attempt to position the state of play as it is enaced and
perceived through technology.

play as a motivational factor instead of an approach that emphasizes game mechanics. Indeed
many of the gamification advocates have been criticized for focusing too much on the
importance of extrinsic motivation, ignoring the pitfalls of rewards (for an extensive critique on
external rewards see Kohn, 2001). Consequently, many new texts and debates on gamification
show that the paradigm is shifting from rewarding players to empowering them. Regardless of
how this change of stance has been triggered, it is important to acknowledge the existence of a
new challenge for game theorists; the new study of play.
Indeed we believe that game design has been and will always be delimited by our
understanding of play. In their seminal work, Salen and Zimmerman acknowledge that by

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

Similarly, many gamification advocates have recently raised the question of the importance of

3
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

positioning games into the space of play, framing games as a subset of play (Zimmerman &
Salen, 2004). As such, play has the power to transform the game:
Transformative play is a special kind of play that occurs when the free movement of
play alters the more rigid structures in which it takes shape. The play actually
transforms the rigid structure in some way. Not all play is transformative, but all forms of
play contain the potential for transformation. (Zimmerman & Salen, 2004, p. 305)
Thus, we believe that these new trends, both in game studies and gamification stem out from
the limits of game design in relation to our understanding of play; in order to expand the
boundaries of game design we must first broaden plays horizons.

2.3 The Playful Interaction Design


So far we have shown that gamification is indeed rooted both in the evolution of videogames
and the academic developments in the field of game studies. However, there is one aspect of
gamification that is very rarely addressed or debated; interaction design. Even though
gamification advocates argue for the use of game design and game knowledge in the
development of non-game products and services, it is often omitted that interaction design has
an almost institutional role in the development of such applications.

well as interaction designs role in the domain of gamification. Indeed such questions are
difficult to answer, especially because there is no precedence; for a very long time interaction
design and game design had been operating in complete seclusion, with very little
communication and knowledge exchange.
As such, our effort here is to trace common threads and topics. It might be that the current
expression of gamification revolves around the hype and attention that videogames are
attracting, but as we have already examined, as game design acquired a more formal structure
many theoreticians and practitioners of other disciplines became interested in it. This fact
makes us believe in the existence of parallel if not converging lines inside interaction and

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

This stance raises the question of game designs position in relation to interaction design as

3
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

game design. Consequently, a broader gamification discussion necessitates an examination of


interaction design.

2.3.1 Planet Interaction Design: Game Design in Orbit?


A quick look at the most recent interaction design handbooks will reveal that the state of
interaction design is in turmoil. Indeed, many theorists and practitioners of interaction design
agree that it is hard to define and encapsulate interaction design in its entirety. Once relatively
small and very specific, interaction design nowadays tends to be referred to as an umbrella
under which many different disciplines, trends, ideas and practices coexist and operate.
As we argued in the previous parts, design cannot be treated as static and as such, its
practitioners are always in search of new methods, goals, mediums and meanings. Interaction
design has originally emerged due to the need for a systematic approach in the development
of goods and services that combined labor and digital technology. As such, interaction design
has initially been focused on maximizing the productivity and efficiency of both labor and digital
technology.
However, with the advent of home electronics, this scenery started changing. Interaction
designers quickly realized that the context of use started shifting; from the productivity-heavy

Consequently, a revision of the principles and methods was deemed necessary. But, as
technological and social advancements continued to evolve, new approaches, disciplines and
trends started to emerge; it thus became clear that for interaction design to work, it had to be
addressed contextually. As such, interaction design is very often viewed as a composition of
disciplines:
disciplines such as information architecture (IA), industrial design (ID), communication
(or graphic) design (CD), user-experience (UX) design, user-interface engineering (UIE),
human-computer interaction (HCI), usability engineering (UE), and human factors (HF).
In addition, many of these other disciplines are also new and still discovering their
boundaries. Figure 5 clarifies the relationships. (Saffer, 2006)

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

environments of work, people started using digital technology for pleasure and recreation.

3
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 5. The overlapping disciplines of interaction design (source: Saffer, 2006)

Hence, if we address interaction design in such a compositional manner, then positioning


game design on this formation would be a matter of setting subjective boundaries (for example
see Figure 6). However, we believe that such an approach is far from useful or practical.
Bounding game design around interaction design does not help us define discrete roles in a
possible cross-fertilization, neither understand how interaction design intertwines with

taking while in this flux state.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

gamification. To do so, we need to examine the trends and directions that interaction design is

3
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 6. Positioning game design on the interaction design map

Indeed over the course of the last decade, many different approaches and directions have
been pursued within the field of interaction design creating a multifaceted and rather
segmented ensemble. Our focus here will be on four approaches that can exhibit both
proximity and relevance with game design and gamification. Thus we first look into a recent
discourse in interaction design that focuses on human behavior and persuasion. Then, we

disconnection between the lightness of play and the rigidness of interaction designs roots in
productivity applications, there have been both theoretical and practical attempts to bring play
in interaction design as a way of appropriating new methods and meanings. Similarly, we also
look into the quintessential aspect of reflection for both game and interaction design; we are
interested in how designing for reflection can be both informative and empowering for
gamification. Finally we approach the most recent development of interaction design and how
new attempts to bring more holistic discourses into the field can converge with gamification.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

examine an unlikely notion for interaction design: play; regardless of the ostensible

3
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

2.3.3 Persuade to Design or Design to Persuade


In the last few years there has been a rather popular discourse inside interaction design that is
focused on influencing peoples behaviors. Persuasive design is orbiting around the notion of
behavior, both for users of interactive products as well as for products themselves; the core
view of that movement is that both users and interactive products generate and react to
behaviors. Consequently, interactions are framed as expressions of these behaviors and thus
the designer is not designing for specific interactions but for a desired (sub)set of behaviors
and reactions to these.
Although the premise of this discourse is not new (HCI and affective computing more
specifically, have long decoupled the user-artifact relationship as an exchange of behaviors on
the level of machine input and output. For more see Picard, 1999) it has never been suggested
before as an approach for influencing the users behavior as a whole. As such, the designer is
not only taking the role of designing appropriate responses to specific behaviors, but shaping a
whole set of behaviors that can influence the user at large.
Some of the most apparent, and cited, examples of this discourse are very much tied to the
idea of persuading their users to change their behavior in terms of energy efficiency. Designs
like IDEOs SmartGauge dashboard for Fords hybrid cars (see Figure 7), where a digital plant

The more efficient a customer is, the more lush and beautiful the leaves and vines,
creating a visual reward for the drivers efforts. (IDEO, 2009)

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

is responding to how energy-efficient the users driving behavior is:

3
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 7. Efficiency Leaves, a visual representation of fuel-efficient driving in Fords Fusion dashboard.

Or the The Tnr power plug (see Figure 8), which is using an Organic Light Emitting Display
(OLED) to create a visual narrative of a tree11 in order to encourage energy conservation
behaviors:

Figure 8. Tnr, a power plug design supporting energy conservation behaviors.

Perhaps an example better known within the gamification circles would be the DDB &
Volkswagens Piano Staircase installation in the Odenplan metro station in Stockholm (see
Figure 9). The staircase next to the escalator was not only defaced in order to look like a
11

See Tnr tree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbre_du_T%C3%A9n%C3%A9r%C3%A9

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

The tree dynamically changes and the particle shows current power use, [in order to]
deliver a meaningful and emotional link between energy use and environmental impact
(Ju-Whan, Yun-Kyung, & Tek-Jin, 2009)

4
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

piano keyboard, but was also connected weight sensors on every step with a digital sound
system, generating different piano key sounds every time a commuter walked on it12.

Figure 9. Piano Staircase, a design for persuading subway commuters to use the staircase over the
escalator.

The goal of such designs is to achieve a certain influence, a change in the behavior of their
users not through a mode of informative feedback and rational processing but as Ben Cerveny
argues through the activation of the users aesthetic sensibilities:
The way you actually elicit engagement and interest from someone is to appeal to their
aesthetic sensibilities. (Ben Cerveny in Ashlock, 2009)

agents. Accordingly, the role of the designer is to aim at triggering emotional responses that
align the users behavior with the intended one; as Robert Fabricant argued in his notorious
presentation, interaction designers should address the users primordial cognitive systems and
not their rational space (see Fabricant, 2009).
However triggering emotional responses by challenging the users aesthetic sensibilities is not
the only way to persuasion. Robert Fabricant also advocates for an integration of existing social
norms into interactive systems in order to achieve not only personal influence, but social.

The developers claim that 66% more people than usual chose the staircase over the escalator (the
result comes from an undisclosed period of observation).
12

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

Thus, the standpoint of this approach perceives users as emotional rather than information

4
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Endeavors like Project Masiluleke, which attempts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South
Africa by merging mobile technology, and PCM (Please Call Me) messages in particular, with
healthcare information, counseling and referrals to local testing clinics (for a detailed
description of the project see Pop! Tech, 2009).Thus, by scaling the model even further,
designers can create social impact by embedding powerful social norms into digital interaction
systems.
We thus see similarities with gamification both on theoretical and practical level. Most rhetorical
aspects of the current expression of gamification address human behavior; the prime
gamification argument is that games shape (playing) behavior at such extent, that their design
can be harnessed to influence consumptive (Zichermann & Linder, 2010), working (Reeves &
Read, 2009)and social behavior at large (McGonigal, 2011). At the theoretical level, we most
often see the above argument being grounded in the theories of Flow (Cskszentmihlyi M. ,
1991) and Operand Conditioning (Ferster & Skinner, 1957) (in that games challenge us and
leverage our primal response patterns; for more see next chapter). However, more recently we
have also been witnessing a trend in gamification applications to put more emphasis on the
conventions of social exchanges (i.e. in gifting, boasting, sharing etc.; again for a more
thorough analysis see next chapter). As such, we view gamification as part of this upcoming

2.3.4 The Play of Design


In the previous part, we saw how a rather new trend in interaction design is attempting to
broaden the scope of design by introducing models that are focusing on user behavior, not as
reactions to interface use, but as a process of awareness, beliefs, values and decisions.
However, there is one particular aspect of interaction design that is very hard to ignore when it
comes to (re)contextualizing and (re)addressing the scopes and mediums of the design
process: play. Play has a rather long tradition within interaction design and indeed has always
been used as a path for exploring new boundaries.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

movement across interaction design in the sense of common rhetorics and aspirations.

4
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

As many interaction design practitioners and scholars have pointed out, when play enters the
design equation new possibilities open up both for the design process and the end product.
As Lwgren et al. point out:
From the early days of role playing and "mocking it up" in participatory design (Ehn
and Sjgren 1991) and up until today there has been a thread of playful participation
that cuts across the distinction between design and use (Lwgren, Binder, & Malborg,
Playing in reality, 2009, p. 7)
And indeed, as play enters the design process as a method, it unavoidably mitigates into the
end product itself. Design in general and interaction design in particular have been
characterized by their openness to creativity and experimentation; values that can only be
manifested in loosely governed labor relations. Thus, activities such as role-playing (see
chapter 23: Buxton, 2007) and toy-playing (see chapter 24: Buxton, 2007) are now regarded as
parts of the basic toolset for every interaction designer.
The premise of play for both design process and end product is the reduced level of control.
The traditional design thought demands a firm grip on controlling the design process which in
turn will result into tighter products on which the user can exert high levels of control. However
when play is introduced in the design process this rigidness is confuted; the designer is giving
up some of the control over the process for a more explorative and serendipitous approach.
Similarly, when play is then mitigated to the end product, the user is deprived of full control in

can be appropriated and developed further.


Of course such an approach does not always guarantee innovative or good design. But when
methodological and perceptual boundaries have to be pushed, play is a good strategy. As we
have already discussed (2.2.3), play can take the role of a transformative catalyst
(transformative play) which can alter the rigid structures that bound it and provide new
meanings. As such, this discourse is viewing both designer and user as playful creatures:
characterized not just by [their] thinking or achievements, but by playfulness: curiosity,
love of diversion, explorations, inventions and wonder. (Gaver W. W., Designing for
Homo Ludens, 2002)

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

order to facilitate its playful use; this way, new meanings and understandings of the product

4
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Ludic Design, as it has been termed by Bill Gaver, dismisses all traditional interaction design
models when it comes to designing leisure technology for a more open-ended approach that is
focused on play. For Gaver, play is the antipodal of work; like Huzinga, Gaver sees in play the
qualities that can free individuals from the toil of work and the confines of result-oriented
activities. Thus in order to eliminate competitiveness, Gaver proposes an approach on play with
four characteristics:
1. It is situational in the sense that it always depends on circumstances.
2. Affords playfulness instead of competition; by allowing the user to express her curiosity
and experimentation instead of confining her with rules and goals.
3. It takes (mostly) physical form but is also very often highly conceptual.
4. It is unpremeditated, lacking formal structure; by raising questions instead of providing
any answers.
The examples of this approach are most often didactic rather than practical; thought-provoking
home objects like The Pillow by Anthony Dunne (Dunne, 2008; Dunne & Gaver, 1997; see
Figure 10), which is an inflatable pillow with a light block that emits light patterns based on
ambient electromagnetic radiation. The Pillow is primarily an aesthetic object but it can be used
to challenge the culture of wireless communications and provide the user with a discreet
voyeuristic experience over the invisible radio space (Dunne, 2008). A similar example is the

top, through which a slowly scrolling aerial photography of the British countryside can be seen,
controlled by the weight of objects on the table (Gaver W. W., Designing for Homo Ludens,
2002).

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

Drift Table (Gaver, et al., 2004; see Figure 11), a small coffee table with a circular view port on

4
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 10. The Pillow, by Tony Dunne.

These artifacts operate against the models of normality, usually referred to when new
functional possibilities are being developed (Dunne, 2008), being intentionally ambiguous by
overstating or understating their meaning. This way, their users must speculate their use
instead of planning it, giving them the space to appropriate new meanings. But they also target
a broader notion of pleasure; instead of rewarding their users with quantifiable feedback, like
persuasive designs do, they attempt to:

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

intrigue and delight at all levels of design, from the aesthetics of form and interaction,
to functionality, to conceptual implications at psychological, social and cultural levels.
(Gaver W. W., 2002)

4
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 11. The Drift Table, by Bill Gaver.

Thus, ludic design is an attempt to bring discovery, reflection and consequently impact not
only for the user but for the designer and her methods as well. It requires new understandings
of both users needs and methods to address them. To achieve these methods, Gaver et al.
propose a mindset for designing for ludic interaction based on four directions:
1. Support social engagement in ludic activities. Ludic design should aim at eliciting social
interaction and exchange.
2. Allow the ludic to be interleaved with everyday utilitarian activities. Ludic activity can be
spontaneous and unpremeditated; as such, ludic design should afford for ludic activity
to emerge within the whole spectrum of everyday activities.
3. Dont expect ludic designs to leave everyday activities untouched. Ludic designs take
both space and time, thus their spatial and temporal attributes will affect the lives of
their users beyond a conceptual level.
4. Dont seek to meet users immediate desires. Ludic design works against
instrumentality and as such should not try to address existing user needs; even when
such needs emerge through ludic activities, ludic design should abstain from
actualizing them.

from learning to implementing, we often see the inverse; implementing a design and then
learning from how users appropriate it. An attitude that we see more and more influencing all
branches of design; like the urban planning project Re-imagining Chinatown: An Interactive
Planning Process (Rojas, 2009) that takes the ludic activity of structuring landscapes with toys
(LEGO bricks) into a shared vision for city planning. Visitors of the exhibition participate in a
shared ludic activity, shaping a toy scale model of a neighborhood which will then help the
urban planner understand how people perceive and envision their community.
Indeed, it might be that most ludic designs nowadays might not be addressing leisure
technology, but the principle of looking critically at the traditional standpoints of interaction

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

We thus see in ludic design the call for a radically different design attitude, instead of moving

4
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

design, work, efficiency and design research, has influenced a whole wide spectrum of
interaction design theorists and practitioners. For example, Sengers et al. see ludic design as a
challenge for technological design at large:
In the context of HCI, ludic design explores the limits of technology design practice
what it is we may design for, what methods we may use by proposing a specific set of
values that contrast sharply with those currently at the center of technical practice:
functionality, efficiency, optimality, task focus. (Sengers, Boehner, David, & Kayne,
2005, p. 52)
In that context we see both parallel and crossover lines between ludic design and gamification.
First of all, is the obvious element of play that both share; it might be that the current
expression of gamification is primarily steered towards games rather than play, but as we have
already argued, it would be nonsensical to discuss games without addressing the role of play
in them. As Salen and Zimmerman argue:
Within PLAY, we explore games as systems of experience and pleasure as systems of
meaning and narrative play; and as systems or simulation and social play.
(Zimmerman & Salen, 2004, p. 302)
It is this explorative quality of play that could also be a component of a wider gamification
paradigm; as we have already argued, gamification requires both new interpretations of design
and new practices. As such, both play as a design component and ludic design as an

more thoroughly in the next chapter).

2.3.5 The Design of the Critic(al)


Critical design is a design approach/stance developed by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby that
also moves along the methodological, ideological and rhetorical lines of ludic design. We view
it as a more radical approach towards technological design; an attempt to subvert the existing
assumptions, intuitions and values of consumer products design, pushing our relationship
with the medium of electronic technology to the limit (Dunne & Raby, 2001, p. 8). Whereas
ludic design focuses on the design of leisure technology, critical design views all electronic

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

approach, are necessarily parts of a gamification discussion (a discussion that we address

4
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

artifacts as post-optimal; focusing on design attributes that go beyond optimal efficiency and
functionality. Consequently, the emphasis is once again on the aesthetic qualities of the
designs:
In a world where practicality and functionality can be taken for granted, the aesthetics
of the post-optimal object could provide new experiences of everyday life, new poetic
dimensions. (Dunne, 2008, p. 20)
However, Dunne sees in aesthetics a more subversive role; the aesthetic qualities of a design
can become the vehicle with which the existing values of design at large can be critically turned
on their heads. Notions like user-friendliness and usability are reversed, in order to expose their
underlying ideology and culture and challenge their users conceptual models.
Thus, critical design methodologies are against all normal, established practices. By actively
designing for user-unfriendliness, the designer can add distance between the user and the
artifact; this way sensitive skepticism is triggered, bringing attention to the ideological content
that transparent designs most often conceal. Similarly, by twisting the functionality of familiar
designs against their established normality, the designer is pushing the user to not only
imagine (new) uses for them, but also establish new levels of consciousness about her
relationship with technology. Chindogu inventions are prime examples of such artifacts (see
Figure 12); (un)useless inventions that are composed of familiar concepts operating as critical

Chindogu are inventions that seem like theyre going to make life a lot easier, but
dont. Unlike joke presents built specifically to shock or amuse, Chindogu are products
that we believe we want - if not need - the minute we see them. They are gadgets that
promise to give us something, and it is only at second or third glance that we realize
that their gift is undone by that which they take away. (Kawakami & Papia, 101
unuseless Japanese inventions: the art of chindogu, 1995, pp. 6-7)

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

motors for reflecting upon the effect of technological artifacts in our lives:

4
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 12. Baby Mops, a Chindogu invention for making your children work for their keep13.

Hence, the role of the critical designer is to provoke and learn; provoking by designing artifacts
that address unusual psychological needs and desires like the Truth Phone, a phone with an
embedded voice stress analyzer that allows the receiver to know if the other person is lying.
Then, by observing these psychological narratives that the users are drawing through the
(mis)use of the artifact, the designer can create alternative contexts of use and need (Dunne,
2008).
In that sense, the critical designer is a conceptual designer, addressing neither concrete needs
nor functionality but rather conceptual models. Thus, critical designs do not need to be

critical process for both user/observer and designer. As such, critical design very often
operates on the fringes of criticism; in fact, most theoretical and practical concepts of critical
design operate hand in hand with interactive art:
Interactive art is an area of a new creation of medium, which enables us to explore the
world in order to know it better, more precisely, or which even changes the world by
13

After the birth of a child there's always the temptation to say "Yes, it's cute, but what can it do?" Until recently
the answer was simply "lie there and cry," but now babies can be put on the payroll, so to speak, almost as soon as
they're born. Just dress your young one in Baby Mops and set him or her down on any hard wood or tile floor that
needs cleaning. You may at first need to get things started by calling to the infant from across the room, but pretty
soon they'll be doing it all by themselves. Theres no child exploitation involved. The kid is doing what he does best
anyway: crawling. But with Baby Mops he's also learning responsibility and a healthy work ethic. (Kawakami,
2004, pp. 280-281)

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

physical, or implemented at all, the concept of a critical design is enough to encourage the

4
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

creating it. Interactive art is not a given form of art, not an established medium yet. The
process of creating interactive art is still the process of understanding the world.
(Masaki Fujihata in Leopoldseder & Schpf, 2001, p. 81)
Despite the contextual and subjective bias of critical design, we believe that reflection is an
integral part of the design process and use experience. Consequently, critical design, or the
reflective aspects of it, should be considered as parts of gamification. Since the basic premise
of gamification is to enforce motivation for activities that otherwise operate in lack thereof, it
should also afford, or enhance reflection upon these activities and their ideology for both users
and designers.

2.3.6 Interaction Design as a Whole Aesthetical Experience


In the previous parts we examined three approaches/trends of interaction design that we
believe bring relevance to the discussion of gamification. Despite the fact that some of them
are seemingly far from the interaction design tradition, we identified them as potential
candidates for an explorative process due to their instrumental and didactic potential. Indeed
we could argue that their theories and methodologies could be transferred to constitute a
proposal for yet another trend in interaction design, instead, we join the many that advocate for
the need to bring more holistic approaches to interaction design (McCarthy & Wright, 2004).

already many interaction design researchers and practitioners that are arguing for a more
holistic examination of the interaction experience, taking into account a context that is
composed not only by technology and user, but history, culture and society. Examples of this
stance can be traced almost across all trends of interaction design; from ubiquitous computing
(Dourish, 2001; Dourish, 2004; Chalmers, 2001), to ludic design (Graves Petersen, Ljungbladb,
& Hakansson, 2009; Hakansson, 2009) and HCI (Sengers, et al., 2004; Boehner, Vertesi,
Sengers, & Dourish, 2007; Boehner, Sengers, & Warner, 2008; Djajadiningrat, Overbeeke, &
Wensveen, 2000) there have been calls for a new design paradigm, based on the

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

We thus view all the above approaches as steps towards that direction. In fact, there are

5
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

instrumentality of aesthetic interaction14. A deliberation of aesthetics in interaction design,


where the aesthetic qualities of the artifact are determined contextually, not only as a result of a
visual performance, evoking emotional and intellectual responses (Lwgren, 2008).
It is this new common perception of the aesthetical dimension of interaction design that seems
to bring together all these, formerly segmented, trends. It couldnt be otherwise; as Petersen
et al. insist, the aesthetic is always appropriated rather than attached inherently to the artifact.
As such, the aesthetical qualities of an interactive artifact are manifested by the social-historical,
bodily and intellectual dimensions of the context that the interaction is taking place in
(Petersen, Iversen, Krogh, & Ludvigsen, 2004). Thus the role of the aesthetic interaction:

Figure 13. Framework for Analyzing Experience (McCarthy & Wright, 2004)

This radically different approach on the relationship between user and interactive systems
demands new design models, both conceptual and practical. Among the various proposals, we
distinguish McCarthys & Wrights Framework for Analyzing Experience and the Five Different
One can trace this generalized demand also by examining the rhetorics of all these authors. It is very
common that we see neosemanticizing (Riggs, 1989) phenomena of synonymy (multiple terms for one
concept) and polysemy (additional meanings for familiar words) for concepts like emotion, motivation,
mood etc. that hint that the only segmentation in the field is indeed semantic.
14

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

is not about conveying meaning and direction through uniform models; it is about
triggering imagination, it is thought-provoking and encourages people to think
differently about the encountered interactive systems, what they do and how they might
be used differently to serve differentiated goals. (Petersen, Iversen, Krogh, &
Ludvigsen, 2004, p. 271)

5
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Perspectives on HCI by Petersen et al. The former breaks down the aesthetical experience in
four distinct threads (emotional, compositional, spatio-temporal and compositional) and then
structures around them a sense making model, based on six processes (Petersen, Iversen,
Krogh, & Ludvigsen, 2004; see Figure 13). The latter is an extension of the 1984 Bdker &
Kammersgaard model (Bdker & Kammersgaard, 1984), sets the aesthetic experience as the
medium of HCI:

Table 1. The Five Different Perspectives on HCI (Petersen et al., 2004)

We thus see that both models are spiraling around two common elements; the aesthetic
experience as the central quality that characterizes the medium, and the treatment of the user
in the user-artifact relationship as an appropriating agent.
Accordingly, in the field of videogames, Hunicke et al. describe an analytical model for
decoupling the game player experience in three distinct components, Mechanics, Dynamics
and Aesthetics (Hunicke, LeBlanc, & Zubek, 2004). Their emphasis is to move games from the
field of media to field of artifacts:

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

aesthetic interaction aims for creating involvement, experience, surprise and


serendipity in interaction when using interactive systems, [] promotes bodily
experiences as well as complex symbolic representations when interacting with
systems; [it] creates a frame for allowing the user to express herself through the
interaction. (Petersen, Iversen, Krogh, & Ludvigsen, 2004, p. 274, see Table 1)

5
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Fundamental to this framework is the idea that games are more like artifacts than
media. By this we mean that the content of a game is its behavior not the media that
streams out of it towards the player. (Hunicke, LeBlanc, & Zubek, 2004)
This orientation of the MDA framework has made it particularly popular among both game
scholars and practitioners. Consequently, we see why many gamification advocates using it as
a main analytical and design tool to support their arguments and methods (see (Kim, 2011)).
As such, we also view gamification as part of this shift of focus towards holistic approaches
centered on the user aesthetical experience.

2.4 Work, Leisure and Play


In the previous parts we tried to sketch the landscape that gave rise and context to
gamification. Our effort so far has been focused on bringing relevance to the concept; in other
words we tried to set ourselves in a position to understand how have we come to this? what
makes the application of game design in everyday life relevant? We identified three critical
constituent parts to gamification: (i) the intrusion of games in all aspects and dimensions of
everyday life, (ii) the important developments and evolution in game design and (iii) a shift of
the scholarly, rhetorical and practical design discourse towards more holistic, more open
contexts. However, even though this framing can provide the space for a broader approach on

Our examination of the events and evolution of the above constituents, led us to not only
highlight their radical transformation over the last years, but also expose the intertwined
relationships that govern them. Such relations are not just conceptual but also practical, often
having direct and immediate effects. As such, when we acknowledge that both practice and
theory have changed over the last years, we must also assume more significant changes as
well. Such changes are often hinted by the rhetorics and ideology of these constituents, thus in
order to unearth them, we need to draw distance and examine the broader context that binds
them together in order to construct new concepts like gamification. We believe that such is the

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

gamification, we still need to question the positioning of this framing.

5
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

only way to answer the answer the question of why now, what is the catalyst that sets
gamification in such a tenable position?
Hence, we need to address the ideological roots of gamification. To do so, we will examine the
concepts of work and leisure.
Why work and leisure? It is work and leisure not because we view them as the two poles
gamification attempts to bridge, but rather because we believe that their radical transformation
opened the landscape for gamifications current expression; in other words, gamification as
ideology can only be operative through a lack, or malfunction, of the order that sustains and
governs the domains of work and leisure.
In the previous chapter, we talked about the invasion of casual games in both temporal and
spatial dimensions of everyday life through mobile technology (2.1.2). For leisure studies
scholars Gant and Kiesler, mobile technology is making harder to draw the distinctive lines

As we become more mobile, enabled by wireless technologies, we use the technology


at our discretion. When an employee uses his personal cellular phone to call his wife
from the car on the way to a sales call, is he on work or on social time? What if he is
calling her from the lobby of his building, or his office? Does an employer who provides
the cellular phone to his employees have the right to call them during evenings or
weekends? Clearly, for the growing ranks of the technology-enabled workforce, wireless
technologies make it difficult to draw a distinction between work and social life. (Gant &
Kiesler, 2002, p. 130)
However there is something more than this evident overlap of the two notions, facilitated by
technological advancements. We would like to suggest here, that it is not just the spatial and
temporal aspects of work and leisure that are getting increasingly intertwined, but their very
nature and notion of such.
As such, we will argue for an alteration of work and leisure in both ontological and
epistemological dimensions. We believe that the suggestion for such an argument lies at the
core of gamifications premise (to enforce motivation and engagement for activities that
otherwise operate in lack thereof) and therefore, such alterations might not only be conceptual

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

between work and personal life:

5
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

but also very pragmatic. Consequently, our examination should not be a superficial
rhetorical/philosophical questioning of the nature of work and leisure, but an interpretive one,
elaborating the meaning of work and leisure in the context that gamification is addressed.

2.4.1 The Values of Work and Leisure


The first step towards an interpretive examination of the development of work and leisure over
time is to set a starting point; an initial position upon which we shall depart from. To do so, we
shall not place work and leisure in opposition but we will offer a layout of their respective
values. In that way we circumvent the problem of defining over-changed concepts such as
these, while still provide the reader a concise interpretation. The basic obstacle, is going
beyond the dichotomy of work and leisure and examine leisure as not the opposite of work, or
the other way around, but rather see both under a prism of possible values.
As such we attribute to work a set of eight core values, a sub-set of social values since work is
a social concept:

Achievement: The value of pursuing, achieving and failing to achieve quantifiable goals.

Lucidity: The value of knowing your place/role and conform. Work operates against any
ambiguities; in work there are no surprises, positive or negative.
Finity: They value of being of finite magnitude. In classical economics, work as a state is
considered binary: you either work or you do not work. In that sense, work has a
beginning and an end.

Satisfaction: The value of gratification for a job well done. The more trivial the job, the
better; tasks/jobs like sorting papers, or washing dishes are the zero level examples of
work as a medium for satisfaction.

Fairness: The value of consistent and pre-mediated input and output.

Evaluable: The value of being able to receive value. Work is quantifiable, and thus it can
be measured and evaluated.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

5
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Engagement: The value of mediated action. In work, one has to take physical/mental
steps; no work can be done without action.

Participation: The value of collective awareness. In work, one must be aware of the
collective functionality/ruling that surrounds work.

Likewise, we attribute to leisure a set of six core values:

Incitation: The value of physical/intellectual activation/instigation. Closely related with


intrinsic motivation, leisure has the distinctive characteristic of working against
boredom.

Fantasy: The value of shaping desire. Only through leisure one can learn how to desire;
get in accordance with their true desires, wants, needs, dreams and aspirations.

Individuality: The value of being oneself. Contrary to work, leisure is perceived and
exercised differently by individuals. However, despite its subjective nature, leisure is
insulated by a common concession about the freedom of getting understood
differently.

Impeccability: The value of being devoid of any guilt. Leisure is not just self-justified, it is
beyond justification; as such, any time spent in leisure is time well spent.

Consumption: The value of enjoying the fruits of ones work. While work is associated
with production, leisure is mostly connected with consumption, the fundamental

needs but also provides the space for their saturation.

Reflection: The value of getting in accordance of ones body/environment and their


surrounding relationship. Leisure provides the context and space for understanding
ones state of being.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

component for any production to exist. In this context, leisure does not only create the

5
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

2.4.2 The Erosive Quality of (Instrumental) Play


As we have already shown, the spatial and temporal divisions of work and leisure have been
abolished; using computers to play games at work is already a great issue15, perhaps a bigger
one than work-related phone calls in after work hours. However, these divisions are not the
only ones abolished; work and leisure have long been invaded by the variants of instrumental
play16.
Instrumental play abolished all divisions between work and leisure though the fixation of the
goal. Instrumental play, or finite play as James Carse terms it (Carse, 1986), is the play that has
a goal other than itself, a quantifiable, finite goal. As such, instrumental play materializes
through competition and conquest, an endless agn that is played out across all aspects of
social life:
Every situation is win-lose, unless it is win-win a situation where players are free to
collaborate only because they seek prizes in different games. The real world appears as
a video arcadia divided into many and varied games. Work is a rat race. Politics is a
horse race. The economy is a casino. (Wark, 2007 [6])
Consequently, not even work is spared; quite on the contrary, work is the ideal space for all

The old class antagonisms have not gone away, but are hidden beneath levels of rank,
where each agonizes over their worth against others as measured by the price of their
house, the size of their vehicle and where, perversely, working longer and longer hours
is a sign of winning the game. Work becomes play. Work demands not just ones mind
and body but also ones soul. You have to be a team player. Your work has to be
creative, inventive, playful ludic, but not ludicrous. (Wark, 2007, [11])
So when the office lights turn off, the worker-player cannot rest, cannot enjoy the values of
leisure, instead he seeks the enjoyment of work elsewhere, into the gamespace of the
videogame:

See (News.com.au, 2011)


Not all kinds of instrumental play are deemed as negating forces for work and leisure. T.L. Taylor for
example, examines instrumental play as part of the power players playing experience (see Taylor,
2006).
15
16

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

antagonisms, which now take shape though work metaphors and even worktime itself:

5
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

the work that is being performed in [massive online] video games is increasingly
similar to the work performed in business corporations.[] Everyday, many of them go
to work and perform an assortment of clerical tasks, logistical planning and
management in their offices, then they come home and do those very same things in
MMORPGs. Many players in fact characterize their game-play as a second job. (Yee,
2006, pp. 3,5)
But the gamespace of the videogame is full of treadmills and Sisyphean tasks, and despite the
claims of the gamification advocates17, the worker-player cannot find the lucidity and fairness of
work he aches for, because there is no work, it is all instrumental play:
If it is a choice only between The Sims as a real game and gamespace as a game of
the real, the gamer choose to stay in The Cave and play games. The contradiction is
that for there to be a game that is fair and rational there is still a gamespace which is
neither. (Wark, 2007 [49])
Thus the only things that are left, are trivial dilemmas18 and themes of leisure-play, such as
sports and arts:
Now they become work, disguised as games, just as games become the disguise of
work itself. The sporting metaphors and slogans migrate from leisure to work and
back again. They cease to be metaphors and become mere descriptions, in a language
stripped of any terms other than those of competition. Almost every moment is swept
into a relentless agn. (McKenzie, 2007, [16], [156])
As such, both work and leisure are negated and equated; negated by instrumental play, they

Equated as in combined in a uniform space of instrumental play composed of non-work and


non-leisure, the whole topography of life is filled with competitions and antagonisms:
While the counter-culture wanted worlds of play outside the game; the military
entertainment complex countered in turn by expanding the game to the whole world,
containing play forever within it. (McKenzie, 2007, [16])

Many gamification advocates relate the lack of motivation and engagement in work with the clarity of
feedback and level of fairness they receive. Most notably Schell argued that contrary to work
environments, games provide clear feedback (Schell, 2010).
18
Such as: would you rather be a Starbucks worker or a starship captain?" (Castronova, 2007). Of
course the dilemma here is non-existent since the values of work no longer exist.
17

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

both lose their values and are rendered meaningless and empty under the strife of agn.

5
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Thus under this prism of the negative equivalency of work and leisure we give gamification two
possible ideological interpretations.

2.4.2 The Hole in the Whole


Our first interpretation is rather pragmatic; we argue here that gamification in its current
expression can only be ideologically operative under a double negation of work and leisure.
The grounding for our argument here lays with the fact that gamification necessitates
significant levels of abstraction from the initial subject of game design (i.e. games).
As we have already examined, there is a general direction of design towards more holistic
experiences. We first encountered it in our examination of videogames, where we saw that their
transition into the experience economy required a radically different approach from videogame
developers and publishers; moving from videogames as the product, to videogames as part of
an integrated user experience with a service. We then also saw it in the rhetorics of game
studies, where the paradigm of examination has been shifting towards the player experience on
different levels (social, aesthetical, emotional). Similarly, in our examination of the most recent
developments in interaction design, we witnessed the steering of discourse towards more
holistic approaches, aiming at generating personal and social impact.

in the design process. Accordingly, we argued that we view gamification as a similar effort of
holistic approaches to game design, expanding its design subject in order to include concepts
such as productivity and engagement.
However, this distantiation process of stepping further and further back from the initial subject
of a design domain is only one side of the coin, the other is the trap of reaching a level of
abstraction that becomes not only larger than the design subject but also renders the scope
unrealistic. As such, instead of designing technology, interactions or games, we are addressing
problems and concepts that cannot, and should not, be resolved unilaterally by design. Hence,

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

It is thus obvious that there is both a rhetorical and a practical effort to account for more factors

5
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

the only way that such a process of abstraction can secure the ideological legitimacy to be
operative, is through the negation of such concepts.
As such, gamification in its current expression can only be ideologically operative as a
consequence of such abstraction. The premise of a holistic game design approach is passing
through significant levels of abstraction. However, if we abstract too much from the concept of
productivity and broaden the context of engagement in videogames too wide, then we are no
longer addressing productivity or engagement as such; instead our examination is on work and
leisure as holistic experiences and gamification in that context looks like an ambitious attempt
to design and regulate a space bigger than a game, work, leisure and essentially life itself.
Thus, the only way such an attempt can only be operative is if work and leisure are essentially
negated19 (though the variants of instrumental play). In that sense, gamification has only the
affectation of designing for engaging or motivating interactions within work or leisure contexts;
in reality there cannot be any as such, since both work and leisure are negated.

2.4.3 The Ideology of the Pointless Point


Our second interpretive approach deals with gamification as ideology. As we have already
made the case, when both work and leisure are negated, the enjoyment of their values is lost;

of such a problem, how do we maintain appearances and substance, in order for them to
remain operative? Paradoxically, our answer/remedy so far, at least on ideological level, seems
to always come as the coincidental of elements that caused the problem. Work with more
(instrumental) play, leisure with more (instrumental) play.
In philosophical terms we could explain such a paradox as another expression of what Slavoj
iek describes as universalized Prohibition in the absence of Law. As such, the lack or
abolishment of a higher Order that governs life/work/leisure translates paradoxically not into the

19

As in non-work and non-leisure, work and leisure without any values.

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

into that domain of negation, their experience is rendered meaningless and empty. In the face

6
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

allowance of excess (of works and leisures enjoyment of values) but into complete prohibition.
A stance that iek finds widespread in everyday ideology:
On today's market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant
property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat., beer without alcohol... And the list
goes on: what about virtual sex as sex without sex, the Colin Powell doctrine of warfare
with no casualties (on our side, of course) as warfare without warfare.
Such is the ideology of gamification in its current expression; adding more work and leisure
without the enjoyment of their values. Thus, we can claim gamification operates ideologically in
the same domain as hedonism; one can have as much work and leisure as they want, as long
as these are deprived of their values:
Todays hedonism combines pleasure with constraint: it is no longer the old notion of
the right balance between pleasure and constraint, but a kind of pseudo-Hegelian
immediate coincidence of opposites: action and reaction should coincide; the very
thing that causes damage should already be the remedy. The ultimate example is
arguably a chocolate laxative, available in the USA, with the paradoxical injunction: Do
you have constipation? Eat more of this chocolate!(that is, of the very thing that causes
constipation). (iek, 2003)
As such, gamification emerges as the ideal chocolate laxative for the negated, by
instrumental play, notions of work and leisure. Does instrumental play not allow you to enjoy

Chapter: 2. Inquiry: Gamification Now?

the values of work and leisure? Have some gamification (agn)!

6
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

In the previous chapter we tried to encapsulate the realities that enabled gamification and draw
the landscape for a broader approach to it. Thus now we are in a position to explore this
possibility space and propose methods and models that would form the basis for such an
approach. However, before we move into exploring any new possibilities we must first examine
the existing ones. This is the only way we can guarantee a comprehensive approach that
accounts for all possible expressions of gamification.
Thus, this chapter is structured in two sections; in the first one we will attempt to layout the
dominant model of gamification as it is implemented and advocated through popular
applications. We shall not limit ourselves to a superficial description, but we will try to explain
and highlight the theoretical and evidential arguments that such applications are grounded

actual implementations that are now found in the domain of gamification.


In the second section, we propose our own approaches to gamification; we do not only seek to
give concrete models and examples, but a way of thinking about gamification. As such we start
with an alternative perspective on how games draw us in, pulling us into playing (with) them;
an approach that is based on the decoupling of the relationship between player and game, not
in the structural characteristics of play, but the emergence of playfulness. Based on that, we
then layout our propositions, addressing the issue of trivialization, the role of reflection in
gamification and how game designers can tap into the elusive domain of social competition.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

upon. As such, we will try to formulate a composition of ideas, proposals and examples of

6
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

3.1 The model


In this part we try to explain the basic gamification model, as it is seen on the majority of actual
applications that either are claiming, or referred, to be gamified. Of course the existing
applications of the model vary; however we view these variations as minor differences that do
not alter the core principles of the model. As such, the following overview can be seen as an
abstracted summary of the fundamental aspects of the current expression of gamification on
the practical level.

3.3.1The Core Activity


The initial point of all gamification applications is the core activity; the core activity is central to
the applications concept in the sense that it is tied to a user need; the core activity must either
satisfy or evoke a user need. As such, the core activity can be already exercised by the user or
not, and it can be physical or mental. The basic principle of the core activity is that it can be
tracked and monitored.

automatically with the aid of a digital hardware or software sensor. The difference here is what
Rogers & Muller term implicit and explicit interactions (Rogers & Muller, 2005) and is a
significant one as it raises issues with both technology and surveillance. Regardless of the
political and legal debates, the technological advancements of the last decade generated a
reality where implicit interactions with technology and digital monitoring are integrated in
everyday life.
Indeed, most gamification applications have been made possible through these technological
advancements. On one hand, we have the mobile phone and its increasingly diverse sensing
capabilities, which have been rapidly expanding vertically. Mobile phones now incorporate
GPS20 trackers, gyroscopes, light sensitive detectors, data matrix readers and thermometers,
20

Global Positioning System

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

Monitoring then takes the form of logging, performed either manually by the user or

6
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

essentially transforming them from communication devices into overloaded sensory


information handlers; an old context aware (Schilit & Theimer, 1994; Dey, 2001) and ubiquitous
computing (Dourish, 2001) vision, now realized through the mobile phone (Bell & Dourish,
2007). In parallel with the sensory overloading of the mobile phone though, we also have seen
a rapid expansion of the wiring activities through the internet; common daily activities that
involve social, financial and personal exchanges are now done over the net. As such, most
common core activities for gamified applications are tied to mobile phone and internet use;
check-ins (enter a designated territory), sporting activities (running a route), social activities
(meeting friends) and electronic transactions (electronic donations), are some examples.
It becomes apparent then, that gamification as seen through its dominant model is deeply
connected to these technological advancements; the fact that all these activities can be
monitored through the use of technology provides the necessary substrate on which the
dominant model of gamification can operate. As such, the goal of the gamified application is to
tap into these activities and provide a service that facilitates and enhances them.

As we saw in the previous part, the activity is only the starting point for a gamified application.
The actual service refers to the scaling of this activity. By scaling we mean the way the activity
is guided and paced over time. This process translates into a clear and definitive objective, a
goal that is either set by, or negotiated between the user and the application, and a progressive
path of short and intermediate goals leading to it. This structure of short, intermediate and long
term goals is what gamified applications are basing their product cycles on. As such, an
example of such a goal structure in a gamified sports tracking application would be, a kilometer
run (short-term goal), a half-marathon run (intermediate-term goal), national running champion
(long-term goal).
Thus, the role of the application is to reinforce these goals through a series of challenges that
will keep the user motivated, immersed and energized. An approach we view very much rooted

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

3.3.2 Tapping into the Activity

6
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

in Cskszentmihlyis Flow theory (Cskszentmihlyi M. , 1991), that advocates for a close


match between the skills and capabilities of the user with the difficulty/scope of each challenge,
in order to sustain a high level of engagement with the activity. As such we see Flow theory not
only as a grounded argument for such approaches, but also as the stronger connection
between

gamification

and

game

design

as

both

are

expressed

today.

Indeed,

Cskszentmihlyis work has influenced many academic and practical fields, and a closer look
to the most popular and widely acceptable textbooks of game design will reveal that the
dominant player-centric design approach is in fact grounded on Flow theory:
Objectives give your players something to strive for. They define what players are
trying to accomplish within the rules of the game. In the best-case scenario, these
objectives seem challengingbut achievableto the players. []When players talk of
challenge in games, theyre speaking of tasks that are satisfying to complete, that
require just the right amount of work to create n sense of accomplishment and
enjoyment. (Fullerton, Swain, & Hoffman, 2008, pp. 60, 86)
Consequently, we find that the rhetoric of the optimal challenge has shaped game design; as a
result, many different approaches of deploying progressively challenging goals have been
explored not only in theory but also put in practice. Methods about both long and short term

adjustment (Bailey & Katchabaw, 2005) have been named, proposed and tested over the
years.
Thus, whether gamification advocates term this approach as user progression, or scaling,
or user guidance of the core activity, we believe that makes little difference. The argument
here comes directly from Cskszentmihlyi who warns us that flow is very much dependent on
the attitude of the user towards the activity and thus cannot be bestowed or forced through a
process of distributing challenges but it rather has to be addressed contextually
(Cskszentmihlyi M. , 1991). As such, it is not surprising that gamification advocates have
been also stressing out the importance of addressing core activities that are already motivating

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

difficulty progression (Sweetser & Wyeth, 2005; Chen, 2007), as well as automated difficulty

6
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

for the user21 (Kim, 2011). It couldnt be otherwise; no matter how well a challenge is scaled to
fit the users skills, it cannot function if the user is not motivated enough to pick up the
challenge in the first place22.
However, strategic distribution and scoping of the objectives is only one part of the process,
the other is feedback; the way the application communicates these objectives and
acknowledges progress. Again, the norm of communicating feedback in gamified applications
is rooted deep into the traditions of game-centric design and as such it needs to be clear and
direct:
When a game has clearly defined goals, the players know what needs to be done to
win, to move to the next level, to achieve the next step in their strategy, etc., and they
receive direct feedback for their actions toward those goals. (Fullerton, Swain, &
Hoffman, 2008, p. 88)
Thus, every action that is part of the core activity must not only be logged but also
acknowledged. As such, the result is very often a positive reinforcement strategy which
essentially rewards the users not only for their overall performance, but for every action. For
example, Microsofts Ribbon Hero, a gamified tutorial application for introducing core

14).

The term Cskszentmihlyi is using is autotelic. It derives from the Greek words auto (self) and telos
(goal), thus it describes an activity of which the motivation and goal is the activity itself.
22
An example here would be a user-optimal marathon training program; no matter how well the program
could account for the runners fitness, physique etc. it would never work if the user is not interested in
running a marathon.
21

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

Microsoft Office features, is rewarding the user for every step taken in the tutorial (see Figure

6
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 14. Ribbon Hero (Microsoft)

We find this positive reinforcement strategy inspired by casual game design23; as we discussed
in the previous chapter (2.1.2 The Rise of the Casual Game), casual games are
characterized by an excess of positive feedback, that is very often associated with their appeal
(Juul, 2010). Whereas in casual games this excess of positive feedback is primarily driven by
aesthetic rewards (often termed juice or juiciness, for more see Juul, 2010; Gabler, Gray, Kukic,
& Shodhan, 2005), in gamified applications it takes the form of quantifiable ones, points,

Thus, the goal here, contrary to casual games, is not to reinforce the objectives by appealing to
the senses of the user, but rather by creating a social and personal investment. In that sense,
the model does not aim towards the users aesthetic delight but their rationality24. As such,
points, badges and virtual rewards assume an instrumental role in the model.

Even though positive reinforcement in games has been a standard in game design before the
emergence of casual games, we argue that the unprecedented appeal of casual games to a massive
new audience along with the abundance of positive feedback they overwhelmed their players, led many
to see a correlation between the two.
24
We use rationality here in an economics-rational choice theory sense (wanting more/better rather than
less/worse of a good, points, badges etc.)
23

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

badges and virtual items.

6
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

3.3.3 Investing on the Activity


We ended the previous part with the three types of rewards which gamified applications
reinforce challenges and objectives: points, badges and virtual goods. Despite the fact that all
three types are quantifiable, we find that used in different ways.
Points are probably the most flexible form of reward from the above. It can be used as a
scoring system, a progression meter, a scale of rank, or even as a currency; their (perceived)
value has a level of referentiality to their quantity, which makes their use almost unavoidable in
gamified applications. Leader boards, is the most common use of points, a hierarchical listing
of users that aims at activating competition among them by affording direct, quantifiable
comparisons between them.
Points though, can be also used as meters of progression over the scaling process; essentially
operating as progress bars, they can either just signify relative progress or divide it in different
stages/levels (leveling). This way, not only the progress of the user can be monitored and
represented, but also interactions and functionality can be scaled up to suit their progress (i.e.
an application can have new, advanced and expert users with respective functionalities a a lot

Finally, points can be used as currency, a virtual currency that can be redeemed to something
of value. That could be some tangible or virtual good (i.e. a free Latte or a virtual hat for the
users avatar) when then transcribed its value to the amount of the point(s) used to acquire it: in
that sense then points become a monetary regulating power that are operating as means of
exchange.
Badges are also very popular among gamified applications; they are mostly used as direct
rewards for achieving goals. As such, badges operate on a different level from points. Whereas
points create direct competition, badges afford mostly indirect relationships. Badges can be
grouped to create sets and collections, and as such they can be used to create artificial
scarcity in order to drive competition through social recognition (the satisfaction of completing

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

of which scale up depending on the users levels/amount of points).

6
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

a collection/set and bragging). As such, badges are mostly used to denote important
milestones or events (achievements), which in turn can be scaled vertically (breadth) and
horizontally (depth) to create even more pairs of achievements-badges.
Finally, we have virtual items. Even though badges can be broadly seen as virtual items, it has
been established that in the context of gamification they are different. The difference is usually
attributed to the tradability of virtual items as opposed to badges which are more personal and
usually not exchangeable. Thus, virtual items are also used as scarce resources for collection
completion, but they are more oriented towards social exchanges, like sharing, gifting and self
expression. As such, virtual items and badges are primary tools for creating personal and
social investment for the users. Usually addressed through customization (i.e. avatars and
gear, virtual spaces and decorations etc.) these tools are essentially raising exit barriers from
the application and generating revenue for the application administrators through direct (pay
for virtual good) or indirect purchases (pay for points or currency that buys virtual goods)25.
Of course, as it is already obvious, these approaches are not mutually exclusive and can be
used in variable combinations depending on the situation and the target audience. As we have

types of users.
Regardless of the types of users though, the goal of the model is a double user investment of
instrumental type; investment on the activity, expressed through progression, achievement and
reward and investment in the application itself, by attributing and assigning personal and social
value to the manifestation of these rewards.

3.2 The Alternatives


In the previous section we examined the dominant model of gamification. We showed how its
foundations and core assumptions are based on the same principles as player-centric game
For a more detailed discussion on the use of virtual items for direct profit see Hamari & Lehdonvirta,
2010
25

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

shown, different approaches afford for different interactions and as such can attract different

6
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

design, resulting in an instrumental, challenge-oriented approach. It thus becomes apparent


that such an approach limits rather than expands the concept of gamification.
As such, before we start our explorative process into new methods and practices of
gamification, we believe a mental calibration to a new mindset is necessary. Consequently, we
would like to start by exploring a core, but not exclusive aspect of games; their indomitable
allure to play them.

3.2.1 The Pull


On 21st May 2010, Google, as part of the 30th Pac-Man anniversary, created the most interactive
Doodle26 up to date (Figure 15); every time a user was visiting the front page for a quick web
search, a small Pac-Man game was loaded waiting for them to play. As one of the most popular
videogames of all time, the image was very familiar with most users who just had a go with it.
The statistics for the time spent on that little game were staggering. RescuTime, a company
specializing in productivity tracking and optimization, calculated 4,819,352 of man-hours extra
(36 seconds more on average per user) spent on Googles front page on 21st May, as a result

Figure 15. Googles Pac-Man 30th anniversary Doodle

So what are the qualities of (some) games that can imbue people so much motivation so that
they put aside anything else in order to play them, and how can we extract them for other
A Doodle is a modified version of Googles logo, usually themed around an event, holiday or a
memorial (for more see http://www.google.com/logos/)
26

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

of the Pac-Man anniversary Doodle.

7
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

uses? The answer is indeed a rather complex one, with many different theoreticians and
philosophers offering their own explanations about what is that makes game so alluring.
However, despite the differences in all these models, a look in the bibliography of game design
will reveal that the dominant model is based on an instrumental approach of the player
experience of pleasure; an experience of pleasure primarily based on the cognitive psychology
notion of chunking and pattern recognition. As such, games are often viewed as series of
cognitive exercises, puzzles the solution of which leads to pattern deciphering, turning the
whole player experience of pleasure into a learning process:
Games are [] concentrated chunks ready for our brains to chew on, [] they serve
as very fundamental and powerful learning tools. [] Fun from games arises from
mastery, from comprehension. [] Fun is just another word for learning. (Koster, 2005,
pp. 34, 36, 40, 46)
This perspective of games as mediators for learning experiences, leads to game design
approaches of play that are falsely dichotomized between the play act and the experience of
that act; in other words between play and playfulness. For game design theory, this very often
translates into much more rigorous and thorough focus on the former rather than the latter,
essentially addressing play only within the formal elements of games (see Zimmerman & Salen,

The reasoning behind such a unilateral approach is attributed to two factors. First and foremost
are the spatial and temporal characteristics of the transition of play with/in games; the
conscious, voluntary and essentially autotelic passage of the individual into the games context.
This de facto assumption of the lusory attitude, as Suits terms it (Suits & Hurka, 2005), as a
mandatory component of play within games very often leads to an uncritical stance about how
it was construed in the first place.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

2004; Koster, 2005).

7
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

As such, many theorists perform an analytical division, which separates the attitude from the
act, placing the role of pulling the player into the play experience, or imbuing the lusory
attitude, beyond the boundaries of game design27:
Designing the seduction of a game means understanding all of the formal, social and
cultural factors that contribute to the players experience. It is important, for example, to
understand how marketing, promotion and distribution work in the game industry.
(Zimmerman & Salen, 2004, p. 333)
The other factor is of course the subjectivity of such process; the lusory attitude is a subjective
expression and as such, it resists strict ontological analysis. Thus, it is left to the subjectivity
of the player to determine the circumstances under which they adopt the attitude. As Bernard
Suits claims, the lusory goal, the reason for participating in the game, is a shared goal among
all humans:
Finally, the goal of participating in the game is not, strictly speaking, a part of the game
at all. It is simply one of the goals that people have, such as wealth, glory, or security.
As such it may be called a lusory goal, but a lusory goal of life rather than of games.
(Suits & Hurka, 2005, p. 53)
Of course subjectivity is an issue, and indeed we do not argue against it here, but our

the gamespace, the above analysis does not only divide the space and time of play and nonplay, game and non-game but also the motivation for approaching the game and playing it:
First, players are seduced into entering the magic circle of a game. Second, players
are seduced into continuing playing. (Zimmerman & Salen, 2004, p. 333)
This dichotomy here raises a discontinuity that is problematic not only for analytic purposes but
also practical28. We believe that gamification is only intensifying this paradox due to the spatial
characteristics of gamified applications; how is the lusory attitude of game construed when the
As such, it should not come as a surprise that many gamification arguments and actual applications
come from individuals that have limited or no background in game design but rather come from a
marketing or technological background.
28
How does the game and the game designer account for this deception? Couldnt this be also seen
as the root of the long and deep problem between game developers and game publishers about what
sells (i.e. recognizable IP or good game play)?
27

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

argument goes against the inconsequence of such an analytic division. By drawing the line of

7
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

game in the application is seamed in with everyday life, eliminating the gamespace
boundaries players/users have to cross?
Thus, we would like to offer an approach that would examine these two levels the play form
and the play experience as a unified process; we do not argue here against a conceptual
division, but an analytical one. It is the only way to avoid the logical mistake of confusing them
by a strict ontological division:
Without recognizing that these two levels exist, the two are easily confused, and one
can feel comfortable assuming that he knows the one from the perspective of the
other. (Stevens, 1978, pp. 321-322)
We would like start by rejecting the somewhat nave belief that all games have some special
structural or design qualities that make them irresistible to play. Instead, we suggest that it is
rather the process of interacting with a game; people are driven to the act of playing a game, a
process that takes place in time and space. Hence, we have to look into the spatial and
temporal characteristics of the broader play situation between player and game, in order to
encapsulate the process of player motivation.

temporal characteristics. There is certainly a range of processes that take place even before the
actual use of the game; when the potential player (an individual that has not yet started playing,
but is in the process of deciding to do so) is confronted with the game. In that situation Juul
positions the inception of the subjective cognitive process between the videogame and the
player, with the latter not only coming to an understanding of the formers use and structure,
but also having a strong compulsion to play it; he terms it the pull of videogames:
look at the video game shown in [Figure 15]. If you have ever played Pac-Man, you
know your mission is to eat the dots and avoid the ghosts, and from a brief glance at
the screen, you may already have planned where you want to go next in the game. This
is the pull of video games, and indeed, of non digital games too. You can see what you
need to do in the game, you can see, more or less, how to do it, and you want do to it.
(Juul, A Casual Revolution, 2010, p. 2)

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

Perhaps a useful and maybe good way to start understanding this relationship is to examine its

7
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Obviously, Juul frames the pull around the subjective experiences of the player; not everyone
has played Pac-Man before and thus cannot feel its pull. In addition to this, Juul also adds the
personal taste of the player, and the time required, in the set of criteria that determine the
activation of pull. Obviously then the pull as a concept could not only be limited to videogames;
it can be applied to any finite situation between an artifact and a user:
Consider the jigsaw puzzle shown in figure [Figure 16]. In all likelihood you know how
you would complete it. You can imagine the satisfaction of moving the final piece, of
finishing the puzzle. The jigsaw begs you to complete it. []In music, or in stories, we
experience a similar type of pull: When Frank Sinatra sings I did it my we want him
to end the melody on way. There is a pull toward the final note of the song, the tonic in
musical terms. (Juul, A Casual Revolution, 2010, p. 2)

By finite here, we mean that the interaction between the user and artifact has to have a clear
point of completion (i.e. when all the dots in Pac-Man level are eaten, when the last puzzle
piece is placed, when the verse of the song is sung). In that context of leads and endings, finity
takes the form of bounding them in individual processes that are communicated between user
and artifact.
In that broader context, the pull may be used as a term to describe a feeling, or a situation
between the user and the artifact; it refers to that almost uncontrollable sensation of using the
artifact in a specific way, when perceived and intended use come together. Thus the pull is not
about the artifact or the users themselves, but for a specific situation, where the former is

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

Figure 16. Complete the puzzle (image kowalanka Fotolia.com)

7
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

communicating to the latter, the action that needs to be taken so that their synergy comes to
a consensual conclusion.
The important step here is that of the analysis of the relationship between user and artifact; it is
not attributed to the level of properties of the artifact or the user, but rather in their synergy. The
pull not only hints at, but predicates a dialogic process between user and artifact, a sequence
of messages that are exchanged and interpreted. Of course under these terms the pull as a
concept operates descriptively; it does not say anything about what is the content of these
messages nor the way they are deployed and interpreted.
In order to refine the concept of pull, we shall examine Khaslavskys and Shedroffs proposed
model of seduction, which is a more analytic attempt to explain the inner workings of intrinsic
motivational factors that mobilize users to interact with artifacts. For Khaslavsky and Shedroff
seduction is a process that characterizes the whole continuum of interaction between the
artifact and the user. Contrary to the pull, seduction is understood as a three step process:
1. Enticement. Grab attention and make an emotional promise;
2. Relationship. Make progress with small fulfillments and more promises, a step that can

3. Fulfillment. Fulfill the final promises, and end the experience in a memorable way.
(Khalavsky & Sheroff, 1999, pp. 46-47)
Obviously the most apparent observation we can extract from this model is that Khaslavsky
and Shedroff are also employing a dialogic rhetoric to analyze the user-artifact relationship. In
this dialog, messages are exchanged and deployed into a field of expectations and promises
that is created between the user and the artifact. As such, imagination becomes a kind of
messenger, a cognitive agent that populates/fuels both expectations and promises by bridging
the chronological gap between seduction and actual use:
Interactivity is a stimulation of the power of imagination. By the power of imagination,
one tries to see what will happen a few milliseconds ahead. This brings a future to the
present. It is a bridge between a past and a future. Only interactivity can make such a

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

continue almost indefinitely; and

7
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

jump, enabling us to escape from the chronological cage. (Masaki Fujihata in


Leopoldseder & Schpf, 2001, p. 85)
In that sense, when interacting with an object, imagination is activated, and fills in both spaces
of promises that the artifact is surrounded with, as well as that of their own expectations, in a
way that is forecasting the eminent result. The actual conclusion of that process (see finity
above) though is determining how these expectations and promises are mapped together (see

Figure 17. A dialogic model for user/artifact relationship

Despite the apparent division here, we should stress out once more that we address these two
steps as a unified process. Thus, even though the fueling/filling of the expectations and
promises dimensions precedes their actual validation, or falsification, they should not be
considered independent processes; if done so, then they are reduced to mere daydreaming
and the constant of experiencing reality.
Thus, based on that analysis and by looking at both theories of seduction and pull, we can
see that their authors hint at a perfect overlap between expectations and promises. This not

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

Figure 17).

7
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

only requires from imagination to populate these spaces equally, but to make them identical as
well; what is promised, is what is expected, is what is played.
However, this perfect matching of expectations and promises is very often contradicted by (the
same) design theorists, who call for designs that surprise and go beyond expectations; even
Khaslavsky and Shedroff suggest the design of seductive experiences not by mapping
perfectly expectations and promises but rather by employing ambiguity and surprise:
Surprises you with something novel; Goes beyond obvious needs and expectations;
Leads you to discover something deeper than what you expected; (Khalavsky &
Sheroff, 1999, pp. 48-49)
We thus face a critical paradox; how can surprise and ambiguity in the user-artifact relationship
be accommodated together with their total lack thereof? How can intended and perceived use
coincide, while leaving space for other possibilities? Indeed this paradox is very common
amongst design theorists (Overbeeke, Djajadiningrat, Hummels, & Wensveen, 2002), who very
often either overlook it, or try to surmount it by attributing it as part of a dynamic user-artifact
relationship, like a dynamic gestalt (Lwgren & Stolterman, 2004).

reveal that the ideal candidates proposed for incorporating both the surprise and its lack
thereof, are in fact videogames:
Except for some computer games, software is generally absent from lists of seductive
products (Khalavsky & Sheroff, 1999, p. 45)
We believe that it should not come as a surprise that many design theorists point at
videogames in order to exemplify operative designs of this paradox. Indeed our own analysis
and motivation has been initiated with videogames as the pivot point; it is thus relevant, to
revert back to the player-videogame relationship and examine the characteristics of the
messages exchanged, in order to understand how expectations, promises and imagination can
work in a hyperbolic manner.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

However, a closer look to the analysis of the attempts that bring this paradox into light will

7
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Hence, examining the player-videogame relationship within a dialogic context we cant fail to
indentify that the messages exchanged are indeed messages of play. The same way that
Gregory Bateson describes the exchange of metalinguistic signals in mammalian play, we can
claim here that govern the paradoxical relationship of player and videogame:
these actions, in which we now engage, do not denote what would be denoted by
those actions which these actions denote. The playful nip denotes the bite, but it does
not denote what would be denoted by the bite. [] Play is a phenomenon in which the
actions of play are related to, or denote, other actions of not play. (Bateson, 1972,
pp. 180, 181)
As such, the exchange of messages is in fact a meta-communicative, second order process,
operating in symbolic virtual space29 (iek, 1998), where expectations and promises are
related to, or denote, other non-expectations and non-promises. In other words, the
expectations and promises that are fueled by imagination are neither confirmed nor falsified but
they rather remain as potential to be (un)delivered30.
Following Batesons methodology, we frame31 the player-videogame relationship under the
prism of a premise system where we discern three types of messages, a triadic constellation of

1. Messages of the sort of mapping (an) expectation to (a) promise; the types of
messages that resolve into binary matching of expectations and promises, which either
confirm or falsify them.

iek is using the Lacanian triad (Imaginary, Symbolic, Real) to elaborate how symbolic processes
have to be experienced in a virtual space in order to be operative. His examples include symbolic
authority and beliefs. For the former to be perceived as effective and actual it must not be fully actualized
but remain virtual on the level of threat, otherwise it is undermining itself. For the latter, he argues that
beliefs operate in a virtual domain, in the sense that none has to directly believe; they become operative
by presupposing that some else believes, thus it is enough to assume that someone else believes in
order to have an operative belief. In both cases, virtuality is an essential element for them to be
operative; if a threat is actualized then undermines itself and similarly someone that believes too
immediately, too directly is losing subjectivity, ending up looking like a puppet.
30
In the same way that Bateson also analyses threat as possible future: The clenched fist of threat is
different from the punch, but it refers to a possible future. (Bateson, 1972, p. 181).
31
A psychological frame.
29

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

possible exchanges that describes how the relationship becomes operative:

7
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

2. Messages which simulate the mapping of (an) expectation to (a) promise; the types of
messages that neither confirm nor falsify expectations and promises.
3. Messages which enable the receiver to discriminate between the two above messages.
As such, the third type of message is setting up the frame upon which the paradox is based,
essentially leaving space for only three possible outcomes from a user-artifact relationship:
a) A full and perfect overlap between expectations and promises; when all expectations
are promised and confirmed (see Figure 18, a). This is a perfect mapping.
b) A partial mapping between expectations and promises; when some expectations and
promises are confirmed and the rest are falsified (see Figure 18, b). That is an partial
mapping.
c) A framed mapping between expectations and promises; when some expectations and
promises are confirmed while the rest are not falsified, remaining as potential (see
Figure 18, c). This is the mapping that we term playful mapping between expectations

Figure 18. Possible resolutions of the user-artifact relationship

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

and promises.

7
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Instantly one sees the important element here; playful mapping are not so much dependent on
the expectations and promises that are confirmed but rather to the ones that fall in the second
type of message exchange. That is to say, that playful mappings are not so much about the
delivery of all expectations to the user but of the ones left as future potentials.
Of course, we do realize that not everything can be left as potential and some expectations
must be mapped with promises. However, the pull operates under the premise that some
expectations and promises will never be validated or falsified. Indeed such premises are quite
common in games; sometimes used both on micro (i.e. to pull/push the player from one
action/level to the next) and macro (i.e. to pull/push the player though the entire
game/interaction) levels. For example, in Pac-Man the expectation/promise of ending the game
by clearing a level is never validated or falsified, pushing the player from level to level. Valves
Portal is also a good example of an operative macro-potential premise; throughout the game
the player is promised that at the end of the game there will be cake, a promise that is neither
confirmed nor validated at any point throughout the game, essentially creating a mythology
around it that spanned and spread beyond the boundaries of the game itself32.

objects and processes as well. Thus, the pull is not bound on some universal characteristics
shared across all artifacts, but rather on the plasticity of these characteristics. For example,
take a simple utility artifact such as the paperclip; how else can we explain the transformation
of a paperclip into a sculpture (see Figure 19) other than a playful mapping between the user
and the artifact?

A quick search on the internet will reveal the extent that the mythology of Portals cake; videos, fan
sites and even dedicated dictionary entries show how motivating a playful mapping with a videogame
can be.
32

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

However, we argue here that such mappings are not only met in games but in everyday

8
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 19. A paperclip dinosaur

Hence, in the center of notion the pull, we position the relationship between the user and the
artifact; that is to say, that in the above example, the playful mapping of a paperclip is not
solely attributed to the user or the paperclip itself. It is after some friction, a level of familiarity
and intimacy with the physical and immaterial (i.e. digital) attributes of the artifact that playful

At one level, novelty and repetitionand the play between themdetermine the
context of play, for play clearly needs both. It is the repetition involved in any playful
context that makes the difference possible at all; for whereas in the strictest sense there
may be no repetition, everything differing to some degree even in its repetitions." the
sense or repetition provides the structure which allows the difference to be introduced.
In this regard, all play shares one thing with games: a familiar structure that allows one
to play with the unfamiliar. This familiar structure is not universal: it is contingent upon
the particular context of play. Nor is this familiar structure always the same. (Hans,
1981, p. 28)
We thus acknowledge both the perpetual nature of the interaction processes as well as the
necessary element of learning. For we see the former as a round of steps/loops between the
fuelling of expectations and promises during the overall relationship and the latter as the
confirming/mapping of some expectations and promises. As such, we see learning as the
unavoidable scaling of the confirmed expectations and promises, as the users realign them
over the steps of exchange. Thus, it becomes clear that if we treat user and artifact as static
entities, then inevitably we shall run onto a mapping of the second type, where the relationship
between the user and the artifact translates all expectations and promises into a perfect
mapping (all that is to learn, is learnt).

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

mappings can occur. As Hans successfully contemplates:

8
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

To overcome this deadlock, Salen and Zimmerman suggest that despite the static structure of
games, their temporal component allows for a multiple of possibilities, termed possibility
space, and as such every play instance will be a unique experience for the player:
But the experiential path that a player takes through the space will vary each time the
game is played. Every play of the game will be unique, even though the rules of the
game, its formal structure, remain fixed. This quality of games, that a game provides the
same consistent structure each time but a different experience and outcome every time
it is played, is a powerful engine that sustains and encourages play. We refer to this
concept by the shorthand term same-but -different. (Zimmerman & Salen, 2004, p.
340)
However, we would like to draw the attention from the structural elements of the game, and
position it on the possibility of the temporal alteration of the player. We believe, that the
players/users not only modify the expectations and promises over time, but also get altered
themselves; it is this continuous change of the player/user that creates the space of infinite
possibilities. Thus, the context of play changes because the player has changed and the
concept of same-but-different translates into same-game-but-different-player. As such, this
transformative process for the player/user is a creative one; the seeing of something out of

It is this creative process that gamified applications should aim for. We believe that the role of
gamification in the design of everyday life products and services is not to drive us through a
process of achieving goals, but to enable this transformative process. Thus, the role of the
gamification designer is to devise methods that will initiate such processes.
Concluding here, we would like to emphasize once more, the importance of moving beyond an
approach of play and playfulness with/in gamesasrigid systems. Instead we offered here a
dialectic decoupling of the user-artifact relationships and we showed how playfulness and play
even though conceptually different, they are both constituents of a unified process which we
termed as pull. Armed with this knowledge, we shall now move into elaborating some design
guidelines that can help the gamification designer to design for pull, eliciting playful mappings
between the user and gamified applications.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

something that is not, and that has not been.

8
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

3.2.2 (Against) Trivialization


From our previous discussion about the concept of pull in games it should already be clear that
there is a certain element of repetitiveness or a cyclical process of duplication that comes with
the iterative discourse of the user-artifact relationship. We suggested that in order to maintain a
frame of playful mappings through time, the user must keep realigning their perspective.
Essentially, they must keep altering themselves through every iteration in order to keep
operating the distinctions between first and third type of messages (from the triadic
constellation).
It is time now to suggest that it is this issue of user realignment that perhaps the premise of
gamification is attempting to address. We term it here trivialization, and we see it as a
malfunction of the user-artifact relationship, in that the user has lost the ability to set up frames
of interaction in such a way, that the triadic constellation of messages becomes inoperative;
third type of message are not decoded and thus we have only perfect and partial mappings.
We thus view trivialization as a process met mostly in high productivity spaces. The reason
seems fairly obvious; when many decisions and actions need to be taken repeatedly in a very

that wears off all rules and canons, essentially rendering them impractical and overall
dysfunctional.
Thus, we could read trivialization as a mindlessness state/mode of human operation where the
subject is submerged in a context (i.e. a specific task) (Langer, 1989). As such, we view
trivialized aspects not only in workspaces but also in all aspects of everyday life as potential
areas of interest for gamified applications. Our motivation is based both on the potential of
such applications as well as their impact. Following Hans lead, we believe that trivialization
with its systematized and standardized actions, creates the necessary basis for the potential of
play. As such, we see that trivialization as a process which has inherently elements of play and
it is this context that any gamification application must tap into.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

complex context, shortcuts need to be employed. These shortcuts take up the role of authority

8
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Thus the goal of a gamified application is to aid the transition of the user towards a state of
mindfulness where this context can be enabled:
Mindfulness may be seen as creating (noticing) multiple perspectives, or being aware
of context. (Langer, 1989, p. 138)
There are different methods through which such a transition can achieved, but probably the
most effective one is surprise. In the previous part we saw Khaslavsky and Shedroff suggest
the use of surprise as part of a seductive strategy and indeed, we believe that surprise is also a
critical element of the pull. In the context of trivialization, surprise, the intrusion of an
unexpected or alien element will force a context difference which in turn, will demand from
the user a mindful response. The process, also known as von Restorff effect (see Von Restorff,
1933), is indeed a powerful tool in the hands of the gamification designer, since it presupposes
an existing condition of mindlessness or at least a state of limited context awareness. In that
sense, trivialized processes are prime examples of candidates for using surprise as strategy.
However, even though surprise as a strategy can be very effective, it can also be very limited.
As we already mentioned, the premise of surprise is in fact a trivialized process, a process

mindfulness, or mundane and novelty cannot be applied repeatedly. Consequently, surprise


must be used with prudence and should aim at creating a long-lasting effect rather than a
gimmick; the ideal case of a surprise would entail a permanent change in the user state, who in
turn, would be alert and conscious for new potential contexts and not revert back into
trivialization space.
There are various techniques of introducing surprise with variable advantages and drawbacks.
One of the most used examples of introducing surprise, especially in software applications, is
Easter Eggs, usually witty system responses (messages, graphics, sounds, behavior etc.) to
unexpected or erroneous functionality (systemic crashes, invalid input etc.). Easter eggs have
largely been associated with computer software and even more with videogames since the
term has been nailed by Atari when Warren Robinett (developer of the first graphical adventure
game Adventure, who left intentionally a secret/undocumented item serving only as a way to

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

whose subject is operating mindlessly and as such, the transition between mindlessness and

8
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

access the developers signature33; see Robinett, 2006). However we do not view Easter Eggs
here in the context of the videogame subculture that followed Adventure 34, but rather as
temporal unexpected events that bring tension in the fabric of a constituted reality but still take
place within that reality, essentially strengthening playful mappings.
As such then, Easter Eggs are third type messages that validate playful mappings. It is this
transitory nature of them that can make trivialized process operative, yet playful. Thus their
limitedness is their strength; a permanent Easter Egg is a feature, an expectation that is always
met by a promise and result and as such is rendered trivialized in itself. However, even though
Easter Eggs are of transitory nature, their effect can be long-lasting, creating memorable
interactions that are able to generate mythologies that in many cases surmount the
activity/game itself. As such, not all Easter Eggs are equally powerful; the timing, the impact
and the uniqueness of the Easter Egg are crucial to its effect. For example, two very similar
cases, the Firefoxs and Chromes crash Easter Eggs (see Figure 20, a and b respectively)
have very different effects. While Firefoxs case is using a direct, more personal language
(Well, this is embarrassing) to display an error message, Chromes case makes a cultural

Figure 20. a)Firefoxs 3.0 Easter Egg error message; b) Chromes Easter-Star Trek reference-Egg error
message.

An interesting discussion, but perhaps beyond the scope of this thesis, would be the critical analysis of
the emergence of this first Easter Egg, considering authorship in videogames.
34
Our argument here against it is that Easter Eggs in games became so well established, that almost
operate as a feature, essentially losing their surprise potential.
33

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

reference to an underground culture (Hes Dead, Jim!).

8
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

As such, we see Chromes case as a much stronger example of an Easter Egg implementation;
while Firefoxs message, even though witty, is bound to wear off soon, Chromes case is
building on top of an underground culture in which fans derive pleasure by repeating a
memorable script line as part of constructing new mythologies (Jenkins, 1992, p. 76).

Figure 21. Chevrolet Orlando Play-Doh full scale replica in the streets of London.

Perhaps it does not come as a surprise then that this notion of Easter Eggs has been recently
explored and implemented by marketers; examples like Toy-Racer, Chevrolets Orlando

(see Figure 21) placed in random London locations. The goal of such campaigns is not only to
create a so-called media stunt, but indeed, reaffirm playful mappings with the artifact:
Hopefully our launch will appeal to the inner-child in every parent and it will become a
firm family favorite. (Turton, 2011)
Similarly, flash mob35 campaigns like Saatchi & Saatchis dance flash mob event for T-Mobile in
Londons Liverpool Street station (see Figure 22), are also ideal exemplars of both the temporal
nature and surprise of an effective Easter Egg. Such events remain memorable and generate

Flash mob events are public gatherings of complete strangers, organized via the Internet or mobile
phone, who perform a pointless act and then disperse again. (Oxford English Dictionaries Online, 2004)
35

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

promotional campaign in the UK, which had a 1.5 tones, full scale Play-Doh replica of the car

8
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

a feeling of spontaneity precisely because they question the fabric of the constituted reality of
everyday life36.

Figure 22. Saatchi & Saatchis dance flashmob event for T-Mobile in Londons Liverpool Street station.

We thus see Easter Eggs as more than rewards for explorative behavior; they can key the user
into different states and frames, altering trivialized processes to playful mappings.
Another way to break the norms of trivialization is ambiguity. We would like to propose
ambiguity here as the means of interpreting a trivialized process by its subjects; as Gaver et al

by thwarting easy interpretation, ambiguous situations require people to participate in


making meaning. This can involve the integration of previously disconnected
discourses, the projection of meaning onto an unspecified situation, or the resolution of
an ethical dilemma. In each case, the artefact or situation sets the scene for meaning
making, but doesnt prescribe the result. (Gaver, Beaver, & Benford, 2003)
Thus for Gaver et al. ambiguity does not refer to a property of the artifact, but rather to the userartifact relationship, essentially a property that can lead to playful mappings of a trivialized
process through appropriation. Hence, whereas Easter Eggs come as a surprise to the userOur argument is that we shouldnt be misled here; the fact that they are meaningless (at least on
appearances, of course there is a promotional campaign which will be connected to the event, but
usually these events are not experienced as endorsed by a brand), unpoliticized, devoid of demands
and claims (contrary to political demonstration for example) is only adding to their strength. Thus if such
events were orchestrated as targeted campaigns for poverty, underdevelopment, climate change and so
on, like many gamification advocates suggest (see McGonigal, 2011) then that advantage would be lost,
losing their efficiency.
36

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

note:

8
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

artifact relationship, ambiguity comes as a question. Of course in the context of trivialized


processes, the user operates under mindlessness and as such, it is up to the artifacts
attributes to set the question. In that sense ambiguity can take many forms, setting different
questions to different situations and processes.
Gaver et al. distinguish three different types of ambiguity (see Gaver, Beaver, & Benford, 2003):
1. Ambiguity of Information, where the representation of information gets over- and underdefined in order to elicit a sense of incompleteness, requiring from the user to fill in
the missing/incorrect parts.
2. Ambiguity of Context, which arises when the familiar artifacts or processes are set
inside alien contexts, forcing the user to combine seemingly incompatible meanings.
3. Ambiguity of Relationship, which is a much more personal type, challenging the very
existence of the relationship and the users beliefs and values.
Based on this classification, Gaver et al. propose a detailed series of tactics for enhancing
these different types of ambiguity (see Gaver, Beaver, & Benford, 2003):
For enhancing ambiguity of information, the designer can:
o

Use imprecise information representations to emphasize uncertainty and push


the user into filling the gaps.

Over-interpret data to encourage speculation; the use of exaggeration can be


used to puzzle the user and essentially turn him from planner to speculator.

Expose inconsistencies to create a space for interpretation; the use of


deliberately incompatible information in order to challenge the users interpretive
skills.

Cast doubt on sources to provoke independent assessment; by obfuscating the


source of information the user is challenged to affirm their validity.

For creating ambiguity of context, the designer can:

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

8
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Implicate incompatible contexts to disrupt preconceptions; by combining


contexts that bear not match, the designer can juxtapose and challenge existing
mental models.

Add incongruous functions to breach existing genres; by adding unusual


functionality to existing genres, the designer does not only create new genre
possibilities, but can also form a critique for the modalities of the established
ones.

Block expected functionality to comment on familiar products; the reverse of the


above, by taking away expected functionality, the designer can also comment
on existing, well established designs and processes.

For provoking ambiguity of relationship, the designer can:


o

Offer unaccustomed roles to encourage imagination; by designing idiosyncratic


artifacts, the designer is asking their users to adopt unusual roles.

Point out things without explaining why; closely related to ambiguity of


information, instead of over-interpreting data, the designer can also highlight
data without explaining why in order to create a sense of questioning their

Introduce disturbing side effects to question responsibility; by introducing


disquieting implications to the design, the designer can take the user out their
comfort zone.

Even though the above list seems fairly thorough, we believe that it is neither exhaustive, nor
definitive. As with surprise, we view ambiguity as a powerful tool for the gamification designer
but also one with many limitations. First and foremost, it must be used with caution and
measure; as Gaver successfully notes, introducing ambiguity indiscreetly can very easily result
in self-indulgent, confusing and frustrating designs that are easily dismissed (Gaver W. W.,
2002). Moreover, within the context of our trivialized processes examination, ambiguity is not
enough by itself; confronting ambiguity within a mindless state does not guarantee the
transition to mindfulness. The experiment/example of Wittgenstein with the ambiguous figure(s)
of a duck/rabbit (see Figure 23) shows that even though we might be challenged by ambiguity

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

significance.

8
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

we are not necessarily making reflective viewing of the situation (i.e. the deterministic factor of
which of the two we see rabbit or duck is not a matter of expectation but rather luck/angle of
viewing etc.), or in the words of Langer: We can be simultaneously mindful (on a molar level)
and automatic (on the molecular level). (Langer, 1989, p. 153)

Figure 23. Wittgensteins duckrabbit drawing

Hence, we would like to conclude here, that both surprise and ambiguity have the potential to
become the levers that alter trivialized processes into playful mappings, taking the user from a

be balanced and adjusted to the situation, being adapted to the characteristics of each
trivialized process. Thus, we should stress that any gamification attempt over trivialized
processes must take into account the existing rules and schemas37 that govern the process.
Consequently, a systems approach cannot work; by viewing trivialized processes as systems
whose faulty components can be replaced by games (as systems), we fail to address the
broken user-artifact relationship. The role of the gamification designer then is to design
strategies that will enforce not the bypassing or subversion of the rules but their playful
interpretation.

37

Something that hold true for all gamification approaches to existing applications and products.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

state of mindlessness to mindfulness. However, they are not unconditional; they both need to

9
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

3.2.3 Reflection
In the previous chapter, when we tried to encapsulate the context within which gamification
arose, we addressed the peculiar case of critical design. We then drew the parallels between
critical design and gamification and stressed out the importance of reflection both for users and
designers.
Thus, we believe it is time now to elaborate the role of reflection we see for gamification. Based
on our analysis of the pull, we highlighted trivialized user-artifact relationships as targets for
gamification and proposed some methods for subverting that trivialized relationship into playful
mappings. It is this element of subversion, the passing from mindlessness to mindfulness that
draws the connective link between our vision of gamification and critical reflection, as Sengers
et al. term it:

As such, we do acknowledge that critical reflection does not always address our direct
relationship with artifacts or technology at large, but rather processes that can incorporate
technological, interpersonal and social dimensions. The role of reflection in gamification is
more didactic than instrumental.
Thus, we would like to propose two approaches of critical refection that gamification can relate
to: a lenses approach to data readings and the power of pretending.
For the former we have to pick up the line from our trivialization discussion in the previous part.
There is a core element within trivialized processes that many times passes unnoticed;
trivialization processes are most often accompanied with a large volume of data that is
generated by the activities taking place in them and remain outmoded. As such, we believe that

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

critical reflection [refers to] bringing unconscious aspects of experience to conscious


awareness, thereby making them available for conscious choice. This critical reflection
is crucial to both individual freedom and our quality of life in society as a whole, since
without it, we unthinkingly adopt attitudes, practices, values, and identities we might not
consciously espouse. Additionally, we recognize that reflection is not a purely cognitive
activity, but is folded into all our ways of seeing and experiencing the world. (Sengers,
Boehner, David, & Kayne, 2005, p. 50)

9
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

this data could be the source and trigger point of a reflective process which would involve the
user tracing the behaviors and rules that govern that trivialization.
Contrary to ambiguity strategies discussed in the previous part (ambiguity of information in
particular), we propose here a lenses approach to trivialized data. The lenses here refer to the
prism through which the data are read; not directly a data visualization and representation
approach, but rather a method that determines the depth of the data presented to the user.
Hence, the role of the gamification designer in such a case, is to create these lenses as a
measure of critical distance, moving the user from macro-to-micro and from macro-to-micro
readings of data. Thus, by configuring the distance between the user and the data, the
trivialized process is generating, the gamification designer creates a clash between the
perceived relative and the recorded absolute, enabling the space for new interpretations of the
process.
Existing applications of this approach usually afford multiple lenses, allowing the user to
calibrate the critical distance. For example, Ippei Matsumotos Life Counter (see Figure 24),
lets the user choose how many years they would like, or expect to, live and start the counter;

years, days, hours, or seconds to go are shown on different faces. Of course we do realize that
the example here is highly conceptual, but the important point is that even though the reflective
process is initiated by the designer, the critical distance is decided by the user; depending on
which side the user chooses to display, the effect of the counter upon the reflective process is
different.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

once activated, it counts down the selected time span at four different rates: the number of

9
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 24. Life Counter by Ippei Matsumoto

Perhaps a more concrete example would be the sports-tracking application Endomondo,


which monitors the users sport activities (jogging, swimming, skiing etc.), tracking every move.
That data is then collected and presented to the user in daily/weekly/monthly reports with
analytical statistics and metrics about their performance; the user can then analyze their

Figure 25. Endomodo offers the user a detailed report about their workout activities

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

exercise sessions and plan further workouts (see Figure 25).

9
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

The workouts here are the activities that generate the data that if not tracked and stored by the
application, would be perceived only relatively (i.e. running around the park/block etc.). Thus
the role of technology here is neutral; it passes no any normative judgments about the workout
(i.e. if it was fast, slow intense etc.). Then, the role of the application is to take that tracked data
and present it as a chronicle of past events (workout) in absolute format, the depth of which is
regulated by the user (i.e. monthly, weekly, daily, per workout, per phase, per step etc.).
However we shouldnt be deceived here, the application is not addressed to professional
athletes that need a detailed tracking of their performance development, but regular and casual
everyday users. For it is the clash between the above relative of running around the block
and the thereafter absolute the application is offering. As such, after the workout they can
reflect on what a run around the block means, for their body/heartbeats/fitness/health and
their topographic endeavors (i.e. exploring routes).
Again here, the application is only offering the lens with which the user can look back and
reflect upon the activity; the critical distance must be found by the user. Thus the role of the
gamification designer is to facilitate critical reflection, not design explicitly for it. Whereas critical

aim at exposing the user to the different layers/levels of their relationship with an activity; it is
then through this process of moving/reading between the layers that helps the user engage in
playful mappings with the activity.
Thus we propose a design attitude here that is not forcing the context within which the
reflective process takes place but rather one with more subtlety, where the user is building the
reflective context, making the process more intimate and personal. As such, we would also like
to propose an approach that is based on the power of pretending. As Russel Davies in his
illustrious presentation in Playfull 09 successfully noted, the power of pretending has been
pushing individuals to overcome the mundane:
when I walk through the crowds on Oxford Street a tiny part of me is pretending I'm an
assassin slipping steely-eyed through the crowds in order to shake the agents on my
tail. And I bet it's not just me. I'm not saying I'm massively deluded, just that, very often,

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

design tries to unveil the ideology of technological artifacts, applications such as Endomondo

9
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

some bit of us is always trying to play those games, to make mundane things more
exciting. (Davies, 2009)
Again, we see the connection between the transition of contexts, from the mundane to the
enacted, imaginary, playful. The critical point here however is that with pretending, the fantasy
must remain at a critical distance, elusive, lingering between the real and imaginary:
But it's not just a matter of dressing up. A successful pretending object has to
delicately balance pretending affordance with not making you look like an idiot. That's
why so many successful pretending objects are also highly functional. As anyone who's
been down the Tactical Pants rabbit-hole can tell you it's easy to obsess for ages about
exactly the right trouser configuration for your equipment (ooh-er), all with a perfectly
straight face. But every now and then you have a moment of self-awareness and realise
you're just pretending to be a cop or a soldier from the future or Val Kilmer. And of
course, what you're really doing is both things at once. You're being practical and
thinking about function and you're pretending. But you need some plausible deniability the functional stuff needs to be credible. Which is why pretending objects that are too
obvious don't work. You're no longer pretending in your own head, you're play acting in
the world. (Davies, 2009)
Once again the awareness of the critical distance is coming from the pretender, encapsulating
the element of reflection in a different way than critical design. We see the difference in the way

force the reflective process, that is to say that the transition of mindlessness-to-mindfulness
will be externally imposed, the power of pretending gives space to the user to reflect within his
own context/terms38.
Thus for the power of pretending to be operative, a double-fold strategy must be employed,
ensuring the credibility by maintaining the artifact functional while reducing the hidden
Dunnes para-functionality method is superimposing the designers criticism on the artifact,
rendering it authoritative, impersonal and didactic:
They challenge the impossibility of the possible. It is not enough to look and decode their visual
iconography: they must be used. Through use, or at least by modeling a scenario of use in the
mind, the observer discovers new ways of conceptualizing reality. (Dunne, 2008, p. 67)
Actually this least denominator is also paradoxically the maximum; since most of these items are only
used in museums and galleries it is impossible to use, but only create scenarios of use. Even when they
do get out of a gallery context, they are highly conceptual and didactic limiting themselves to modeling
their use. Thus "understanding" them is (more than) sufficient, they (may) challenge your curiosity and
mental models, but as soon as their dialectic potential is deployed they are rendered useless.
38

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

that both contexts and their exchange are treated. Whereas an intrusive alteration of context will

9
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

elements to the minimum of an ensured subtlety. And while the former is almost ensured within
the context of gamification (otherwise it would be a gamified application but rather a game), the
latter is in most cases not; most gamified applications try to capture the attention of the user
and heighten it. And there is the critical paradox, because for the power of pretending stems
from inattention, not concentration (Davies, 2009). Hence, less is more in this case, for
there is a hard balance between cuing and imposing.
It is not a surprise then that most successful examples of harnessing the power of pretending
come from industrial design. Fiats Tipo dashboard (see Figure 26), which became an 80s
sensation, transforming a family car into a futuristic transport vehicle by digitizing all
numerical indicators. The balance between functional and imaginary here is paradigmatic; the
dashboard was as operative as any other, the function of the automobile remained the same,

Figure 26. Fiats Tipo digital dashboard

But yet again balance is pivotal; while Tipos dashboard elegantly balances between too few
and too many clues, another Italian design for a (concept) cars 39 dashboard (see Figure 27)
loses its credibility by trying too hard to place the same cues that Tipos design does so
elegantly.

Lancia Orca was only a concept car, developed by ItalDesign for Lancia; it was never commercially
released.
39

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

but the experience of driving it, was transformed by the power of pretending.

9
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 27. Lancias Orca dashboard

Perhaps a helpful metaphor of thinking about the power of pretending for gamification designs
would be toys for adults; incorporating the same principles as regular toys, but with enough
resonance so that their use can be accepted40.

3.2.4 (Regulating) Social Play

premise frame which in order to be operative must rely on a meta-communicative domain of


dialectic exchanges. We also proposed how gamified applications can construct and restore
such exchanges, in order to achieve playful mappings. However, there is a plethora of similar
interactions that already exist, especially in the social strata, which remain untapped by
gamified applications. Thus, the question is how can we design gamified applications that
build up on the existing playful mappings found in every day social interactions?
We would like to focus here particularly on a domain of underlying social competition, a space
of latent antagonistic relationships which resists systematization or any kind of external
Contrary to kids, adults very often need some stronger justification in order to use a toy, usually tied to
a utilitarian result. The example here comes from Davies again, who proposed the wrist watch as the
ultimate pretending item; indeed the wrist watch has a utilitarian role, but it is the pretend value that
most consumers pay for and not the utility of it (Davies, 2009). As such, we see this as one more
argument for a contextual, situation-based approach to gamification design.
40

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

In the beginning of this part we talked about how the pull translates into playful mappings, a

9
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

authority. In fact, for this space to operative, any authority at all must come from within, and
thus the traditional gamification model, which addresses this space as a system to be
regulated41, faces many problems. As such, in order to design applications for this space of
unregulated social competition we once again need a different approach.
But first we need to elaborate on what we term here as unregulated social competition.
Unregulated social competition is a domain of rivalry relations between individuals that are part
of a broader social system but remain unregulated by formal or symbolic regulatory authorities
(law, belief systems etc.). In fact, examples of such relationships can be found almost in every
social activity. Imagine a party situation, individuals will participate in all kinds of competition
over the course of the party and thereafter; who is the most fashionably dressed, who is the
best dancer, who knows all the latest song hits etc. People in all kinds of social situations will
undergo numerous challenges, competing against others, over goals, that are set arbitrarily
and subjectively by social collectiveness.
While most research on competition has been focused on areas where such is regulated, very
little is known about how people form and engage into these rivalry relationships. We believe,

With trends, opinions and tastes changing not only over time, but also over the population of a
network/system, a fluid dynamism is generated which is very hard to be examined,
scrutinized and judged in a vacuum.
Indeed, it is this fluidity that such systems operate under, that makes them inherently resilient
to any external regulation. Contrary to the rigidity of agn, found in all sports competition and
subject to objective regulation, social competition has almost always no winners or losers. The
reason, is its resistance to objectification; it is almost impossible to regulate a competition of
the most fashionably dressed individual at a party in a universally accepted manner, when
personal taste and subjective judgment render it perplexing.

We have already raised our objections to system-centric view of games when it comes to gamification.
We believe that the domain of unregulated competition is just another example that validates the
argument against such a perspective.
41

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

that is due to the fact that such relationships can hardly be examined in an objective manner.

9
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

In practice, the only way that such competition can come to any resolution is through closed
social agreements. Social groups, cliques or any other social constructs in which their
members have more or less similar subjective judgments are the only ones that can play and
resolve a game of social competition. Thus the challenge of the gamification designer is
twofold:

On one hand, we have the transient spatial and temporal characteristics that define the
participants in this type of play; it occurs in closed groups, the members of which, share
a close proximity of judgments. This is fundamental for a consensual resolution based
on socially shared judgement. Moreover, these groups are formed dynamically,
changing both members and context.

At the same time, we have the transient nature of the criteria on which judgment is
passed in these resolutions. Even within closed groups, the criteria with which judgment
is passed, are in a continuous alteration. They are reformed and revalidated so often,
we can claim that every resolution process is unique.

Thus, it obviously becomes apparent that these two practically limit any attempts to broaden

believe that the role of the gamification designer in such situations, is not to systemize through
the introduction of rules, but to address these two constraints, unlocking the space of
unregulated social competition into a space of persistent social play. The goal, is to free
social play from its transient limits and open it up to a broader base.
One way that such a solidification of social play can be approached is through a collective
formulation of judgment criteria. Crowdsourcing techniques like crowdvoting, can help create a
set of judgment criteria that are both more permanent and universally acceptable.
Consequently, instead of imposing an external authority, we counter-propose a grassroots
judgment through massification and averaging. Thus the goal for a gamified application is not
to try to contain social play within rigid structures, but allow for the user to scale up the
structures by creating continuity and persistence in judgments. This way, gamified applications

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

the space for a more persistent and participatory competition to take place. Consequently we

9
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

can open up the base of social competition to a greater scale, offering users a new persistent
gamespace/arena of social competition.

3.2.5 Coda: Advice on How to Read this Chapter


We do realize here the contradiction between the first (3.1) and the second section (3.2) of this
chapter. Whereas in the former we layout a rigorous model applicable to almost any situation,
our own suggestions in the latter are not concrete techniques, meant to be deployed over any
situation. As such, we rather view them as design guidelines, a conceptual toolset for the
designers repertoire. Consequently, they must be viewed contextually on an ad hoc basis; not
all problems and situations can be solved through a platform of rigid models.
As such, we believe that a great deal of thought and process experimentation is needed before
we ascribe conclusions about the appropriateness of an approach to a design situation. As we
saw, most of the above guidelines are operative under the condition that they are used with
measure and precision. We thus believe that the potential and possibilities of gamification lie

existing model.

Chapter: 3. Exploration: Gamification for Dummies

within these fine balances and in not the introduction of new game mechanics within the

1
0
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

It is time now to compose and present our design proposals based on our explorative phase.
Our challenge here has not only been to deploy examples and practical concepts of the
theoretical standpoints of the previous chapter, but to make our proposals relevant and
applicable.
We thus tried to employ the same (design) methodology as we have been carrying on in this
work; that is examining a problem under the prism of design. As such, we tried to investigate
potential and existing problems and issues, and approach them with a gamification attitude in
mind. At the same time, we wanted to propose multiple solutions for one problem, effectively
showing and juxtaposing the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches, as well as
testing their appropriateness.
Hence, we divide this chapter in two sections. In the first one, we shall address a particular

approach, taken from the ones we described in the previous chapter. In the second section, we
propose three different applications for three different situations; instead of applying
gamification on existing problems, we try to identify possible targets for a ground-up approach
to gamification.
Even though we view all our design proposals as concepts, they are highly functional; in that
their functionality can be explored and mediated through actual use. All of them can be
accessed

and

run

from

http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis

the

accompanied

CD-ROM,

or

through

the

web

at:

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

problem within workspaces. We shall propose five different solutions, each based on a different

1
0
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

4.1 The Bundy Clock


As we mentioned above, we treated our conceptual proposals as pragmatic design challenges,
aiming to address existing and possible problems. We also mentioned that we want to offer the
reader a comparison of possible solutions addressing the same problem. As such, we shall lay
out five solutions all addressing a real workspace problem: can an automated attendance
monitoring system, encourage workers to consistently check for to work on time?
The subject of my first application has been the checking in and out of the workspace 42.
Traditionally done manually, using old mechanized clocks43 (see Figure 28, a), contemporary
solutions involve automated systems, based on either electronic tokens, which are usually
limited to big industrial workspaces (see Figure 28, b), or utilize the logon process of computer
workstations (see Figure 28, c). This latter version is the one I shall examine and base our
applications upon.

By using an individual username and password, the system can record and track when the+
employee logs on to his workstation, essentially recording his total working hours; this
information is kept on a data center and is usually used for payroll and project management.
However, regardless of the version used, there are two significant issues that employers have
to deal with the use of such systems. First and foremost is trivialization; when performed on a
daily basis, the process tends to become rudimentary, unpleasant and is more likely to be seen
as unnecessary, leading to problems and undesired work behaviors. Secondly, the automation
Mostly known as time and attendance systems, they are traditionally put into use for calculating with
precision the working hours of the employees as well as analytic/statistic purposes.
43
See Bundy clocks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundy_Clock)
42

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

Figure 28. Different attendance tracking systems.

1
0
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

of the process does very little with the inherent problem of employees turning up late, or
leaving early. Thus the challenge at hand is: Can we design a logon process that can work
against trivialization, as well as afford for the employees to be consistent?

4.1.1 Points for Consistency


We name our first solution Points for Consistency44 which we believe reflects its functionality.
Every time the user/employee logs on to her workstation on-time, they receive points. The
points are calculated by a formula that takes into consideration multiple factors, like how many
minutes early the check-in is performed, how many working days in a row they have been
consistently checking-in on-time and how much earlier they check-in for work relatively to other
workers (i.e. an amount of points equal to the amount of fellow workers that havent checkedin). The specific formula is:

where c is a constant of points (depends on the size of the group/workforce), m is a modifier


calculated by the number of weeks which the user has been on-time (all five days on time), e is

performed) and w is the number of employees that have not yet logged in for the day.
This information appears on a small panel window after the successful logon to the workstation
computer and it appears while the operating system is loading up (settings and preferences)
making it almost impossible to miss or avoid (see Figure 29).

The digital concept can be found


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/Logon/Points/
44

in

the

folder:

./Thesis/Logon/Points/

or

at:

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

the number of minutes before expected logon (how many minutes early the logon has been

1
0
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 29. Points for Consistency, points accreditation

These points are then added to a total history of points earned, and put against a leader board,

Figure 30. Points for Consistency, leader board

4.1.2 The Scout boy Worker


Our second solution is based on specific expressions of the behavior we want our automated
attendance system to afford45. As such, we are using a badges/achievements system to
attribute to the user every time they exhibit such behaviors.

The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/Logon/Badges/ or at:


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/Logon/Badges/
45

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

so that the user can compare how far/close she is from the top users (see Figure 30).

1
0
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 31. The Early Monday badge

Thus, every time a user logs on the workstation the check-in time is compared against a range
of criteria; if one of these criteria is met, the user is awarded with a badge/achievement. This
badge/achievement is then added to the users collection and can be viewed either in a
statistics panel at the workstation or be uploaded/posted on a social media profile (Facebook,
Twitter etc.) (see Figure 31).

Our third solution termed the Lenient/Ruthless Clock46 is a basic logon system with a
modifiable clock. Whereas in standardized systems, the time settings of the workstation are
synchronized and locked by the central report server, this version allows, and even
encourages, the user/employee to alter the clock settings of their workstation before login on
so that they can manipulate the starting time of their shift and be on-time (see Figure 32).

The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/Logon/LClock/ or at:


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/Logon/LClock/
46

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

4.1.3 The Lenient/Ruthless Clock

1
0
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 32. The Lenient/Ruthless Clock

However, once the user changes the clock settings, they get temporarily locked, meaning
that they cannot be adjusted again within eight hours. Consequently, even if the user turns the
clock back in time for ten minutes in order to be on-time, the time settings remain, and thus
they still have to work a full eight hour shift and not for seven hours and fifty minutes47.

time even when they are not, while at the same time keep shifts at a consistent duration (i.e. no
loss of labor).

4.1.4 /worked
The next solution is inspired by the World of Warcrafts /played macro command, which
displays the total amount of time played by the player divided in minutes, hours, days months

47

We assume a standard eight hour shift; it could be adjusted to the shifts of each employee individually.

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

The goal is of course to give the user a sense of gratification for perceiving that they are on-

1
0
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

etc. divisions48. Similarly, this solution presents to the user a panel of statistics about their
working times every time they logon to their workstation49.

Figure 33. A detailed data table about working behavior

The information is a detailed representation of all the working hours of the employee including
overall time spent at work, absolute numbers and percentages about late/early, check-ins,

The panel appears on screen when the operating system is loading up (settings and
preferences) making it impossible to miss or avoid, while remaining discreet since it does not
interfere or obstruct the whole process since the interaction is minimal and brief.

An example output would be: Total time played: 17 days, 16 hours, 49 minutes, 19 seconds
The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/Logon/Stats/ or at:
http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/Logon/Stats/
48
49

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

overtime etc. (see Figure 33).

1
0
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

4.1.5 Office Coffee Cliques, a Game Played at Work


Our final proposal for a gamified automated check-in system is much closer to a traditional
(board)/social game than any of the above50. It is a weekly game that all employees can play at
the beginning of the work day through the logon interface.
The premise of this game is that every Monday, the users will undergo a recruiting process
when they logon to their workstations in order to form coffee cliques, groups of four that
compete every morning of the week for coffee favors. The goal is to owe as few favors as

Figure 34. Office Coffee Cliques, assembling a new clique

The game starts every Monday morning; when the users logon to their workstations they have
a series of options; if a user is unclaimed by someone else then he should invite/claim three
other unclaimed users to join his coffee clique (see Figure 34). When these users logon, they
will be informed they have been claimed by that user and now belong to that group. When all
users are claimed, a new round begins. Every morning of the week each user has to select one
out of three possible actions whenever they logon (see Figure 35):

The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/Logon/Cliques/ or at:


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/Logon/Cliques/
50

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

possible to other teams while being owed as many as possible.

1
0
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

1. Make coffee for himself.


2. Make coffee for two of his clique members.
3. Ask someone outside his clique to make him some coffee.

Figure 35. Office Coffee Cliques, choosing daily action

The result of each action is determined by the actions of other users on that particular day:

If someone outside the users clique asks him to make him coffee while he is making
coffee for himself, then the clique is awarded with one (1) point.
If the user is preparing coffee for two of the members of his clique and someone outside
the clique asks one of them to make her coffee then the clique is awarded two (2)
points.

If the user asks someone outside the clique to make him coffee and none is making
coffee for her (either herself or someone from he own clique) then the clique is awarded
with three (3) points.

At the end of the week (Friday), the clique with the most points wins a symbolic, palpable
reward51 and a new round begins.

51

In the form of a group reward, something like a fruit/wine basket or a paid dinner etc.

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

1
0
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

4.2 The Thankbox


The Thankbox52 was conceived and developed based on our search for the mundane in
everyday life. As we analyzed in the previous chapter, our goal has been to identify trivialized
processes operating under mindlessness and force a shift in the perspective/context of the
user.
As such, we tried examining all the trivial processes that employees usually undergo through a
workday. One of the most apparent and early examples that came up, was a thanking ritual
that most often goes through email, SMSs, messengers and other electronic means of
communication. There are many instances where a piece of advice, a tip or a heads-up,
delivered through a telecommunications channel and must be replied by a simple message of
thanksgiving using the same medium.
This electronic form of etiquette is only partially trivial, since in most cases it hasnt gone
through a standardization process. This lack of standardization is often causing problems,

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

since it is usually disruptive, non-productive and thus forgotten or skipped.

The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/ThankBox/ or at:


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/ThankBox/
52

1
1
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 36. Nodes, a thanksgiving action in Thankbox

Hence with the Thankbox, we tried to not only imbue a playful framing on the process, but also
address this lack of standardization. The application is split in two parts/boxes. The first part
(Nodes) is an attempt to convert the thanksgiving process into an efficient, yet playful toy that
takes all the connections of the users network (work network, social network etc.) and creates
a diagrammatic graph with nodes and links. Then the user has to select one of the nodes

then sent and stored in a central server which holds an archived dataset of all thanksgiving
actions.

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

(attached with a name) and thank the user corresponding to it (see Figure 36); the action is

1
1
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 37. Cloud, a text cloud representation of all the thanksgivings received

The second part of the application (Cloud) is based on that dataset to generate a graphical
representation of all the people that have thanked the user, in the form of a text cloud; the more
thanksgivings received by an individual, the bigger their name appear in the cloud (see Figure
37). Thus the user can see from which nodes/individuals of their network they have received
most thanksgivings.

4.3 MovieTaste

competition can be unearthed and utilized by gamification applications. The issue the
application is addressing is the elusive subject of taste in film-viewing. As most readers know,
there is always a form of antagonism in social situations about which individual has a good/bad
taste in films. Of course, matters of taste are by nature very subjective and as such, we do not
see the above issue as a problem; on the contrary we see the potential of such competitive
forces and as such we would like to propose a way that could be utilized to facilitate a much
more persistent and open social play.

The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/MovieTaste/ or at:


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/MovieTaste/
53

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

MovieTaste53 was developed as a paradigm of how the domain of unregulated social

1
1
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Hence, our solution was not to create a game application that would drive the players through
challenges and goals in order to reward/attribute the ones with the best taste in films, but rather
an application that allows them to engage in a competitive form of social play on their own
terms.

Figure 38. MovieTaste

Hence in MovieTaste is social application, both in terms of nature (i.e. it gains meaning only
through social/shared use) but also in practical terms (i.e. it is functional over social networks).

the search functionality they can build their own film collection. Based on that collection, the
application is aggregating average ratings of each film from the Internet Movie Database
website (IMDB.com) and creates an index of ratings for the taste of the user in films in
general, and for each genre (see Figure 38). Then the user can then select which of these
ratings

they

want

to

share

suggestions/recommendations.

with

their

friends,

and

also

exchange

film

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

As such, users connect through their social network account to the application and by utilizing

1
1
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

4.4 Adult Challengers


Adult Challengers54 came as a proposal for a context where not only a combination of
approaches is required, but also social and personal sensibilities need to be addressed. As
such, we propose a different take on adult dating web services. We view the most important
problem with such services the uneasiness of the average user to provide the service operator
with sensitive personal information. Thus, whereas the dominant model of dating websites
requires a level of trust between the user and the service operator in order to be operable, we
suggest a playful approach that can build a much stronger bond of trust between users.
Adult Challengers shapes the process of sharing personal information as a form of interpersonal (inter-user) challenges. All users can initiate a challenge over another user; in the form
of sharing some personal information (add preferences and details), creating content (post
videos, photos) or participate in activities related to the service (joining events)55. The
challenge, along with a personalized message and a starting offer is then made public and

The digital concept can be found in the folder: ./Thesis/Applications/AdultChallengers/ or at:


http://itu.dk/people/chio/Thesis/AdultChallengers/
55
Obviously the list is not exhaustive here and the examples both here and in the digital application are
only the indicative.
54

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

takes the form of an auction (see Figure 39).

1
1
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Figure 39. Adult Challengers, creating new challenge

Every user can bid for every challenge and when the auction time runs out, the winner and the
winning bid are conformed. If the challenged user accepts and executes the challenge, the

Thus the goal is to set a virtual economy running with challenge points being traded through
auctions for personal details and content while users engage in playful interpersonal and social
exchanges.

Chapter: 4. Composition: 5+3 Proposals

winning bid is transferred to his account and the challenge is credited to the highest bidder.

1
1
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

In the previous chapter we sketched out our gamification solutions to different problems and
gave a brief overview of the reasoning behind their design. In this chapter we shall perform a
more rigorous analysis.
Even though, as we noted earlier, all our design concepts are functional, we chose not to test
them on a large scale; their functionality serves the purpose of elaborating their design
approach rather than stressing out their commercial potential. Thus, we view them as test
concepts and as such our assessment will be conceptual rather than quantitative.
Hence we start by examining our Bundy Clock proposals, comparing the different

winners and losers here, but rather show how the different approaches can elicit different
results in the long term. Next we shall assess each of our other solutions individually, trying to
highlight our design choices and argument for them.

5.1 Different Clocks, Same Time

5.1.1. Points for Consistency or Consistent Points?


We

chose

the

use

of

points

for

our

first

proposal

because

points

have

the

advantage/disadvantage of equating their award with specific behaviors; we can assess


behavior, or even performance of a specific behavior, and award/deduct respective points.
Thus in this case we selected three specific behaviors from the employees:

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

approaches regarding effectiveness and sustainability. We are not interested in declaring

1
1
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

1. Come to work on-time; logon before a specific time.


2. Be consistent; have the least late days as possible.
3. Show devotion and enthusiasm; try show up earlier at work than others.
Hence the formula calculating the rewarded points after logging-on to the workstation reflects
the value of such behaviors.
Of course, one can clearly see the advantages of finity and fairness56 such a solution affords;
every user knows what to expect, in that the rules of the game are clear, fixed and
unquestioned. In that sense, the calculating formula takes up the role of the regulating
authority, administering the process of checking in to work.
However, this type of points-for-behavior gameplay will unavoidably lead to strategic planning
and micro-management of the behavior; instead of motivating behavior, the application will
motivate the collection of points. Thus the first problem arises when users will pursue the
collection of points by all means; this translates into a manipulative attempt in order to twist the

Moreover, there is also an issue of options; in this solution, the user is only left to compete
against other users on the leader board. Eventually this relentless strategy will reach a critical
point where a leading small group58 will keep pursuing the top positions of the leader board,
while the critical mass of users will just ignore and disregard the overall application59. The
above problem was indeed an existing one for a gamified application; Foursquare, during its
last production iteration (version 2.0) faced harsh criticism when many users started (ab)using

You know what points you may score, even before you logon.
A similar argument is made by Kohn connects the inefficiency of rewards with the governing nature of
the rewarding authority and the loss of the user autonomy:
rewards are usually experienced as controlling, and we tend to recoil from situations where our
autonomy has been diminished. (Kohn, 2001, p. 78)
58
In which the user types could either be competition driven individuals (see Bartles achievers Bartle,
2003), or dependants; individuals who are tied to the reward of points (which clearly is not the case for
most applications of gamification)
59
One could even claim that such an approach is utterly useless, since the initial motivation for designing
such a solution is to motivate employees that are not a competitive by nature.
56
57

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

system against its static authority (the formula in this case)57.

1
1
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

third party applications like MayorMaker60 to gain advantage over the way Foursquare was
developed and earn points easier. The result was the creation of castes between the top
leaders of each leader board and the followers.
Finally, one even more significant problem with this proposal is that points must reflect a value
of something noteworthy, either in direct monetary sense or in social value. With a significant
number of users gradually dismissing these points over time, we see that any kind of social
value is doomed to be reduced to zero.
We thus conclude that a points approach has limited effectiveness and life-span; it fails to
address our problem in a way that is relevant for all users, it becomes less effective over time
and is essentially rendered practically useless in depth of time. In that regard, the only option is
to artificially extend its complexity in order to mask the direct relationship between the points
awarded and the behaviors exerted, by (over)complicating the points calculation formula such
as the one used in this solution. Nonetheless, we regard it as a poor option, failing to alter

5.1.2 The Scout boy Worker


In the previous part we saw that our attempt to approach our design problem with a pointsbased solution proved to generate more problems that it solved. Thus, by deploying a badgesbased proposal instead, we tried to overcome some of these problems, while maintaining the
spirit of rewarding the user for specific behavior.
As such, our strategy was to expand both horizontally and vertically all desirable user
behaviors in order to create a matrix of conditions. Thus, the initial three behaviors (on-time,
consistency, devotion) had to be translated into more explicit classes which then could be
combined to create a sufficient range of variable (micro) behaviors. Then, we scaled up these

60

See http://mayormaker.com/.

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

significantly the user(worker)-artifact(logon system) relationship.

1
1
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

(micro) behaviors in order to add depth and duration to the overall process; Table 2 elaborates
the process we followed.

Scaling/Behavi
ors

Checking in on
time

Checking out
on time

Checked in ontime badge


Straight in week
badge

Checked out
on-time badge
Straight out
week badge

Monthly

Straight in
month badge

Straight out
month badge

Daily
Weekly

Checking in on
time on
Mondays

Checking out
last

Early Monday
badge

Turned off the


lights badge
Office caretaker
badge

Morning rooster
badge

Last man
standing badge

Table 2. Behaviors-Badges matrix

Thus we see that by scaling (micro) behaviors we can diversify the conditions for a
badge/achievement award and consequently afford for different types of users. Competition
driven users can be addressed by setting competitive achievements, like being in the top-five
or max-week-performance targets; for more adventurous users, we can hide achievement

enhancing social interactions we can include conditions that require some basic level of social
exchange among workers like a group achievement for the best department61.
Hence, it becomes rather obvious that the whole user experience is more personal (single
player) than our points approach; instead of competing against one another with the system
regulating the winners/losers, the users are challenged and rewarded on a personal level with a
system that is pushing them to be more serendipitous. Consequently, in order to induce social
value to the rewards and enable some basic social exchange, we added the option of
exhibiting/portraying the badges over social networks.

Again here, we refer to the four basic Bartle player types (see Bartle, 2003), but it obviously we could
expand them to the extended 8-types model or a custom framework based on play-personas (see
Canossa & Drachen, 2009)
61

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

conditions in complex behaviors like an employee that logs on first and logs off last while for

1
1
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

However, even though our badges approach is less problematic compared to the previous
point-based one, it does have the disadvantage of having a finite point of saturation. By this, we
mean a state where most of the achievements are awarded to all (interested) users thus
rendering them inoperative. The solutions to this inherent problem are both costly and shorttermed; constant support and development of (micro) behaviors and achievements is not
always feasible or cost-efficient. For example in our problem, the desirable behaviors are so
limited that after some point it is no longer possible to extend the behaviors-rewards matrix by
combining (micro) behaviors; in this case scaling up is the only solution. However scaling is
not always the best option, since linear upscaling very often turns the whole process into a
boring grind.
Hence, we conclude that using badges is overall a better approach; it eliminates significant
problems of our points approach and it maintains the main principle of conditioning (rewarding
specific behavior). However, the cost and viability of such a solution are neither reduced nor
expanded respectively. As such, we do not view a badge approach as a panacea for all design
situations, but we reserve our opinion to claim that it can be both operative and efficient on

5.1.3. No Clock is Lenient


A rather different approach, this proposal was based on the idea of disengaging the notion of
being on-time for work with the login process. As we mentioned in the previous chapter, the
login of an employee on their workstation, is not only a trivial process of authentication, but
also signifies the employees working hours, overloading the process with additional
characterization; being on-time, or being late for work. We view this additive significance as a
source of friction since its serious consequences can be at conflict with its trivial nature.
This collision between the trivialness of the process and the seriousness of its consequences is
abrogating any possibility for playful mappings. We argue that it is this external authority (the

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

some others.

1
2
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

algorithm, or supervisor that judges if the login and consequently the employer is on time for
work) that acts as a negating agent for any explorative or playful attitude of the user.
Thus with this proposal, we tried to reshape the seriousness of the action of logging in on-time.
Of course, being on-time in a workspace environment is important and very much a serious
matter for managers and work coordinators, but individuals will always, either by circumstance
or just nonchalance, ignore it and be late. Instead of punishing/non-rewarding them, perhaps
we could refute the importance/seriousness of the idea/notion of being on time.
By allowing the user to adjust the time settings, so that he can always logon on-time, we are
essentially turning the whole notion on its own head, but not in order to legitimize the
belatedness, but rather to create a space where the authority in question is absent, so that the
user can then reflect on his own behavior. In that sense, we designed the solution
instrumentally in order to become a vehicle for reflection, thus the experimentation with the
clock settings take up the form an exploratory process where the user is seeking meaning, or:

Consequently, we view this proposal as an instrumental approach towards forcing a reflective


process; by allowing the user to be curious and explore the possibilities of adjusting the time
settings, the process attempts to be a pivotal point of reflection of the overall idea of work,
working hours and being on-time. As such though, we believe that an objective assessment of
this solutions efficiency and viability is rather unfeasible. The aim of it, is neither to be used in
the long term, neither to adjust the users actions; it is rather to make them be reflective of their
actions and raise their awareness during work time.

5.1.4 /worked (Works?)


As we mentioned in the previous chapter this version was inspired by World of Warcrafts
played macro command. It is rather obvious here that both Virtual World software and
automated time and attendance systems share the feature of tracking and logging the exact

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

a mechanism for developing new values and goals, for learning new things and for
achieving new understandings (Bartle, 2003)

1
2
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

use time of their users, which represents a strict, absolute measurement stored in digital form.
This hard data is most often dismissed, it may exist in absolute terms only in data centers and
timesheets, but in the users minds it exists as relative measure62.
We believe that is not only the volume of data itself, but the overall trivialization process that
enforces this macro reading; as a process, or a behavior becomes more and more mundane,
the outcomes of that process become less scrutinized, and the distance between them and the
subject of the process grows larger63.
Thus, with this solution, we attempted to reshape this data and present it in an informative
manner. The application is neither over nor under stating information, but is rather affording a
micro reading by extensive detailing.
As such, we foresee a clash between the perceived, relative measure of working hours and the
enforced micro reading of the hard data that the logging on process records. Our aim is
precisely this clash of the perceived relative and the recorded absolute; the dynamics of such
an impact can provide the distance required between the user and the action of logging on for

The desired outcome of such a process is for the user to discover new meanings in the notion
of work and working hours. Through that we hope that new understandings of the role of work
and its overall significance in ones everyday life will arise, and that new attitudes and stances
will emerge towards ones commitment and consistency towards it. Thus, once more, we view
the assessment of this solution problematic; its efficiency and viability are not relevant with its
goals. However, in comparison to our previous approach we see a greater flexibility here;
whereas in our lenient clock solution the reflective process is driven by the application, in this
case, the application is only providing the lens with which the user can initiate it.

A typical example of this would be an answer to the question How long have you been working on
this post? which most commonly will come in format of Almost two years now or Its been four
months now. etc.
63
It couldnt be otherwise, in the previous example, consider someone returning an answer like
31.556.926 seconds overall, it would sound rather obscene.
62

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

the instantiation of a reflective process.

1
2
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

5.1.5 Clique Logon


We view our last proposal as a bit more eradicated into a game; instead of borrowing some
game elements, or just reward structures, such as points and badges, we followed a
grassroots approach and designed a game out of the logon process.
The users/players play a game of cooperation with a new round starting every week. The
overall process is not solely based on creating an incentive for login-on-time, but to also
promote camaraderie amongst fellow workers. The aim is to bond different groups of users and
afford communication and collaboration without fostering an unwanted environment of extreme
competition.
For that reason, both mechanics and thematics of the application are borrowed by practices
and behaviors already present in workspace environments. This way, we are not aiming at
creating or altering the reward scheme of a trivial process, or just prettifying it, but rather
isolate the mundane and trivial elements of it, and re-tailor the whole process around them in a

We thus believe that such an approach can have both effective and long lasting results. By
concluding the game every week, we open the space for users, making it more flexible for them
to engage at their own pace and rhythm, in contrast with other solutions which require
continuous and almost uninterrupted attention/engagement. Moreover, by making the game
cooperative we achieve two things. Even if some users become disinterested, the social
structures (groups) can still be operative. In addition to that, the fact that these groups are
temporary creates, an environment of familiarity and immediacy in the workspace. Hence, even
if the game becomes saturated in the long term, the possible positive benefits are considerably
adding weight towards such a solution.
Thus, concluding our proposals for the automated time and attendance system, we would like
to highlight once again that by not addressing specific actions or behaviors but contexts of

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

way that makes them more interesting, engaging the users in playful mappings with it.

1
2
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

application we can design gamified applications that can highlight, reflect and turn trivialized
processes into playful mappings.

5.2 Thanking the Box


The Thankbox is our first proposal that was designed with a grassroots approach; that is
instead of gamifying an existing application, we tried to bring gamification to address a
problem of trivialization within an existing context. As such, we looked into the trivialized
process of thanksgiving in productivity-oriented contexts such as the workplace, and used its
existing rules and canons as guides for our design.
However, as we mentioned in the previous chapter, we view this electronic form of etiquette as
not fully trivialized, since it lacks the element of standardization. Thus with the first part of our
proposal (Nodes), we tried to address this issue by creating a digital toy that allows the user
to perform standardized actions of thanksgiving across their social/work network. The choice of
a toy approach is rather obvious here; our goal is to elicit playful mappings with the activity, the

both more efficient and more pleasing than any other alternative (SMS, email, messenger etc.);
that is the only way we see a trivialized process being operative in the long run.
Then, by storing the data of each thanksgiving action, we are creating the foundations for a
lens approach, giving the user the means to find the critical distance for a reflective process
between her and the action of thanksgiving within the active context. Thus, with the second
part of our solution (Cloud), we are using the above dataset to create a graphical
representation of all the thanksgiving activity the user has received. The use of text cloud as a
data visualization technique is again chosen with the same criteria as in Nodes; instead of
using a utility-connoted representation like graphs, charts or absolute numbers, we prefer a
subtle metaphor (i.e. the more thanksgiving actions received, the bigger the name appears).

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

thanksgiving process must be a brief, but still pleasant experience. In that sense it must be

1
2
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

We thus view ThankBox as the result of a combination of approaches; subverting the trivialized
process by standardizing it, while using the data generated to afford a different reading on the
process. As such, its goal has been to be used as a proof-of-concept for both designing
gamification solutions from the ground up as well as synthesizing new ones, using multiple
approaches.

5.3 The Taste in Movies


As we mentioned in the previous chapter, MovieTaste was developed as a paradigm
application of using gamification to unearth unregulated social competition in the field of taste
in film-viewing. Its goal is not to create a rigid structure by rule-making, but rather to allow for a
broader social play to emerge through the opening of competition to a greater scale.
Thus, our methodology was based on making the judgment criteria more open, accessible and
persistent. This goal was achieved by using of IMDBs64 rating system, which is based on user
polling65. Consequently, by averaging these ratings to the users selection/collection of films the

Thus, crowd-sourcing here takes up the role of a regulating authority; it is no longer the
subjective tastes and opinions of closed groups that ascribe a rating to someones taste in
films but the objective averages of crowds.
The repercussions of this approach are two different interaction loops, one between the users
of the application and one between the application and the crowd-sourced judgment criteria.
The former refers to the activities that connected users of a social network engage into; as Solis
argues, it is not the connections (relations) of a social network that are important, but rather the
activities and interests that are shared between these connections (relationships) (see Solis,
2010). As such, we see MovieTaste contributing the same way that social games do within

Internet Movie Database (ww.imdb.com)


IMDB.com allows all its users to rate films from a scale of 1-10. This functionality has been so popular
that the rating is often used as metric for the overall reception of the film.
64
65

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

application is giving a socially objective (or democratically objective) score on the users taste.

1
2
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

social networks, by adding a layer of interaction and communication to the lightweight social
substrate of social networks (Lwgren, 2010, see Appendix).
In addition to that, we also see a continuous interaction loop between user and content through
mutual judgment; in that the user is rating the film which then rates his taste. We view that
closed loop as a catalyst for a new context of interpretation, reflection and ideological
examination of user generated content and crowd-sourcing; whereas traditional crowdsourcing applications are put in the practice of problem solving, MovieTaste can be seen as an
application that its use self-justifies itself (i.e. the problem that it solves is the problem that
creates).

5.4 Challenging Adults


Adult Challengers as our final proposal here was developed as an example of how our
proposed methods can be used within existing services. However, instead of employing an
additive strategy (just adding game elements), we chose a more holistic approach, redesigning

the end result will not only be more approachable and pleasurable for the end user but also
make commercial/business sense.
As such, we identified the element of trust with online dating services as the most important
aspect we had to build upon. Thus, we approached adult Challengers with a mix of
approaches; on one hand we tried to turn the existing antagonism found in such services into
persistent social play. By looking at the development of online dating services, we realized that
there is a strong element of competition that gave rise to products and services which are
targeting users with specific preferences/characteristics (i.e. elitist dating services). This
antagonism though, is often centrally regulated by the service operator, whose criteria and
policies are usually hidden or unrevealed. That is why we tried to translate this authority from
the service provider to the end users, which are now operating under a form of open market
which assumes the regulatory control of the service. This way, the users are not recipients of a

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

an online dating service with our vision of gamification in mind. That way, we can ensure that

1
2
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

closed service, but rather loose administrators of an open play-service (playvice) regulating
it to their needs.
Thus the role of the service provider is to make sure that this kind of open social play is
operative. As such, we proposed a virtual economy approach centered on a virtual currency
(challenge point) system. Hence, while the playvice is user-regulated, the service provider
becomes the monetary regulator capitalizing on the exchange rate (virtual-to-real currency).
Consequently we see Adult Challengers as a commercially viable solution; by reducing the
regulatory effort and cost for the service provider and dislocating its capitalization source from
advanced services to virtual currency regulation, we are essentially proposing a very similar to
social games model. We thus see the enabling of open social play as a gamification approach,
in accordance with both business and user goals and perspectives.

5.5 Concluding remarks

elaborates advantages and disadvantages of each theoretical method listed in our exploration
chapter. We also tried to showcase how different approaches can be operative either
individually or in conjunction with others and how they can make sense for both users and
developers.
In the next chapter we will try to summarize and conclude our findings and experiences and
map a possible future for gamification, based on our understanding of the fields potential.

Chapter: 5. Assessment: Evaluating with(out) Points

In this chapter we tried to revisit and analyze our practical proposals in a manner that

1
2
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

We set out in this thesis with a threefold goal; to identify and analyze the dimensions of
gamification as the application of game design in everyday life, to examine its existing methods
and explore possible new approaches, and finally, blaze a trail for its future.
In our inquiry step (Chapter 2) we tried to lay down a set of constituents, converging paths that
all led to the rise of gamification as a subject. We started by examining games, especially
videogames, and their evolution through the last two decades. As such, we attributed
gamifications ideological substrate to the intricate social, economic and cultural dimensions of
the hard-core videogames. Then we looked into the rise of casual games and we inscribed the

gamification. Finally we viewed the power of the internet as the force towards an experience
economy transition in the domain of videogames. A transformation that we argued shaped
gamification both rhetorically and practically.
We then turned to the scholarly study of games as a leeway for the development of an
expanding body of knowledge about games. We highlighted the significance of a systematic
study of game design and the importance of developing new theories of play as vital steps
towards a widespread game literacy.
We also looked into interaction design, as the institutional domain for the design of interactive
applications and services and we tried to interpret game designs and gamifications roles in
relation to it. To do so, we examined relevant interaction design trends/subdomains such as
persuasive design as an interaction design approach for targeting and shaping behavior; ludic
design as a playful approach to exploratory design and critical design as a design approach

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

role of mobile technology in the democratization of videogames as the force that enabled

1
2
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

geared towards reflection. We concluded the discussion about how recent trends in interaction
design attempt to deploy more holistic approaches, combining such various subdomains and
show how the emergence of gamification can be read as such.
Finally, we sought the ideological roots of gamification and attempted an interpretation of the
analytical implications that surround gamification both as practice and rhetoric.
By setting the context of our examination, we then moved to our exploration step (chapter 3).
We started by describing the dominant model of gamification and we tried to elaborate,
systematize and analyze it by dividing it into three parts. In the first, we positioned the core
activity as the subject of gamified applications; we explained why monitoring this activity is the
base of a gamified application and we tried to interpret the role of technology in understanding
gamification as expressed through this model. In the second part, we saw how the organizing,
planning and scaling of that activity connects gamification with game design and finally we
explained how gamified applications essentially aim at the investment of the user in the core

We then moved onto elaborating our own vision for gamification. We insisted on the
importance of a radically different mindset, moving beyond an instrumental approach of the
player experience of pleasure. As such, we argued against the division of play as an act and
playfulness as the experience of that act, and developed the notion of pull as a unified theory
that attempts to explain both how players are both drawn to a game and why they play it. We
grounded our theory on Batesons notion of meta-communication and examined the userartifact relationship dialogically. We thus proposed the concept of playful mappings as a
potential explanation for both play and playfulness not only within games, but with artifacts in
general.
Hence we then organized a set of stances/approaches that we view as the basis for a broader
gamification interpretation. We talked about trivialization and trivialized processes as
malfunctioning user-artifact relationships, resulting in non-playful mappings. We advocated for

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

activity and subsequently in the application itself.

1
2
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

the use of surprise and ambiguity as approaches for treating such relationships, realigning
users from mindlessness to mindfulness and restoring/creating playful mappings.
We also addressed the role of reflection in our vision of gamification; we proposed a lenses
approach in which the designer sets the lenses through which the end user can reflect by
drawing a critical distance from an activity. We also constructed an approach based on the
power of pretending, in which the designer is enriching a functional artifact with cues which can
aid the users balance between awareness and pretending, essentially reflecting back on the
activity in his own terms.
Finally, we introduced the domain of unregulated social competition as a potential target for
gamification. We explained how designers can tap into the underlying antagonistic relations of
social groups and organize persistent social play by creating universally acceptable judgment
values.
As such, we then turned onto our composition step (chapter 4), proposing variable solutions

contexts as means of testing them and in order to reveal their strengths and weaknesses. Our
effort was focused on exemplifying how our suggested approaches can be combined to make
solutions that make sense both for businesses and end users.
Finally, we tried to further illuminate our design decisions by assessing our proposals and
providing a first account of their efficiency and viability. As such, we are now only left to
conclude our work by listing the most important lessons learnt throughout this process.

6.1Gamification Checklist

Gamification is not a layer, model or a set of game mechanics. Gamification is a


process, a design process. As such we advise the reader to follow a design method to
structure that process; thus identify the context first, explore it, propose your solutions
and assess them; inform yourself and others about what you learnt and start again.

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

based on our examined approaches. We tried to combine different approaches in different

1
3
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Whether you build from the ground up or on existing applications, products or services
set the context they take place in your first priority. Whenever are you addressing
problematic functions and operations, reconsider their functionality/operation; adding
points will not make them less problematic.

Move beyond the model. We proposed an alternative vision of gamification and tried to
prove that it can be operative without the need to refer to the existing model.

Design on an ad-hoc basis. All designers know that there is no silver lining in design.
Likewise for gamification you should adapt your approach to the users/product owners
needs and the use-context of the application.

When it comes to gamification, dont think of games as systems. We have argued many
times already that such a mindset can be very limiting for gamification. Instead think of
playful mappings; consider how you induce playfulness on the user, not how you
administer it through instrumental gameplay.

Finally, always consider the methodological and ideological implications of the design
methods you are deploying; juxtapose them with your motivation for using them and

6.2. On, Off, For and Against Criticism and Cynicism


While these final words are written, there has been a rather evocative criticism against
gamification, or at least the dominant model of gamification as we portrayed it in the
exploration chapter. The main (counter) arguments are primarily focused on the ethics66,
effectiveness, viability67 and relevance68 of the model, but they often take the form of personal
For example Bogost (Bogost, 2010) and Juul (Juul, 2011) argue against the ethical shortcomings of
the current gamification model.
67
Haque for example is primarily questioning the points-leader boards relationship in the method in
regards to its long term viability (see Haque, 2010).
68
Robertson is arguing for a semantic disassociation between the current gamification model and
games:
That problem being that gamification isnt gamification at all. What were currently terming
gamification is in fact the process of taking the thing that is least essential to games and
representing it as the core of the experience. Points and badges have no closer a relationship to
66

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

reflect on their meaning.

1
3
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

attacks69. Even though we believe we have already addressed many of the issues these
arguments raise, we feel the need to both take a stance, but also attempt to explain the
reasons behind such a rhetorical backlash.
As such, we would like to link our potential explanation with the notion of belief in games.
What we term here belief in games refers to a double dimension of belief systems in relation
to games that we view as malfunctioning. This twofold paradox starts with the way belief is
treated in regards to games.

6.2.1. Paradox 1, The Belief in Games and the Belief in the Belief in Games
Most game theorists have addressed belief in games either from the perspective of make
believe or voluntarism. The former, refers to the idea of constructing a belief out of a games
virtual systemic elements, while the latter often expressed as the voluntary acceptance of these
elements as a requisite to play the game. We view both cases as an expression of the same

sustained and be operative. In the domain of games this translates into the acceptance of the
game rules, the structural elements of the games temporal and spatial dimensions.
Even though many theorists will argue that not all games require the above elements of belief
in order to be operable, we argue here that for the dominant model of gamification to be
operative, there needs to be a level of belief in it. It couldnt be otherwise; whether it is points,
badges, leader boards or virtual currency, there needs to be a level of belief in their value (i.e.
they have to be valued by the users) for them to operate. We are not suggesting a catholic level
of belief but on the contrary a rather loose one. In our analysis of the pull, we positioned the

games than they do to websites and fitness apps and loyalty cards.[] Gamification, as it
stands, should actually be called poinstification, and is a bad thing because its a misleading title
for a misunderstood process. (Robertson, 2010)
69
It has been noted lately that many proponents of gamification have been targeted by critics, namely
Jane McGonigal, who has perhaps received the stronger blow after a book release that drew a
dramatically positive dimension of reality which could be achieved just by the addition of game elements
(see Chaplin, 2011; Champion, 2011)

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

concept; the adoption of the conditions that fabricate a reality is necessary for that reality to be

1
3
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

exchange of message in what iek terms the space of symbolic virtual. Within this space,
beliefs operate not by believing too directly, on the contrary believing is not even necessary; it
is enough to assume that someone else believes in order to have an operative belief. And isnt
that the case for example with Monopoly money? If asked individually, all the players will admit
that naturally they do not really believe that the flimsy paper notes are of real value, but
naturally, for the course of the game they will all act as if they do, not wanting to ruin the
game or disappoint the other players.
Thus the one can already see the problem with having a Monopoly player believe too directly in
the value of these notes. Uneasiness, awkwardness and anxiety emerge; it is not only the
rapture of this reality, in this case the ruining of the game, which generates them, but the
difficulty to accept such a behavior can exist70. Paradoxically, the most common reaction to
such absolute believers is to occupy the symmetrical opposite position of trying to abolish the
belief, in this case to prove that Monopoly money has no value at all.
Thus the problem of gamification and the subsequent criticism can be read through this

gamification model, like points and badges will be, or in some cases are already71, undermined
by the people that believe too immediately in them. The other aspect of this contradiction lies
perhaps on a different, meta level; on the belief of the power of belief in games. That is to say
that all other levels of reality can be translated in this symbolic virtual structure and thus the
whole experience of reality will be operative as such; like some gamification proponents argue,
that many, if not all, ordinary, everyday operations can be actualized and be operable within
this symbolic virtual space (see McGonigal, 2011)72. Thus we acknowledge that most criticism

70

iek argues that when a person takes their beliefs to a direct level, actualizing them fully they are undermining
them and themselves (iek, Cogito and the unconscious, 1998).
71
The focus is again on gamification proponents whose rhetorical level is very often close to that of Monopoly
player who claims that could buy their weekly groceries using their rent earnings.
72
We could mention two actual and living examples here, Edward Castronova and Jane McGonigal.
While both researched and worked with concepts that are very close to notion of belief in games, the
former with virtual economies in Virtual Worlds and the latter with alternate reality games, they only
received criticism, and grew distance, from their peers and the academic/researching community when it
seemed that they perhaps went too far, believing in the power of belief in games too immediately. For

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

contradiction in a dual way. On one hand, there is the threat that the virtual elements of the

1
3
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

over gamification lies within the above double paradox. On one level, the criticism is focused in
a potential dichotomy between believers and non-believers on a greater social scale, rupturing
not game but social realities, while on a second, deeper level, the very existence of the notion
of belief in games is seen as under potential threat when the belief itself is polarized by its
believers.

6.2.2. Paradox 2: Belief in Systems


The second of aspect the paradox of the belief in games lies in the analysis of games as
systems. So far we have argued many times why an examination of games as systems when it
comes to gamification is not useful. However, there is perhaps one more; the view of games as
systems, equates the belief in games with the belief in systems.
As such, we argue here that perhaps gamification as a concept and as motivation was the
symptom of this false equation. Maybe gamification can be read as the attempt to replace the

working components of games-as-systems. Once again, there is an intricate duality in this


paradox; on one hand, there is the belief in systems, in that even when the system fails there is
neither the need for addressing a system change nor questioning the very existence of the
system but rather an attempt to identify the erroneous components of the system and replace
them. On the other hand, as game components take their place in out-of-game systems they
both bring and acquire a level of authority; it is this (external) authority that very often is
criticized as not being applied game design but rather applied politics.
Thus, the problem with an approach of games as systems, is that even as fragments, these
games will always be seen as systems, and not as games, when taken within a context such as
gamification.
the former the trigger point was considered an ambiguous presentation during which he proposed an
almost Matrix-like exodus to the fantasy of Virtual Worlds as a safe refuge from terrorists (Castronova,
Keynote: "Perfidious Economy", 2007), while for the latter was the release of a book which proposed a
total gamification of everyday life along the lines of alternate reality games (McGonigal, 2011).

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

malfunctioning components of an existing system (work, society, government etc.) with

1
3
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

6.3. (Instead of) Epilogue


We started this thesis with Jesse Schell forecasting a future for gamification; we thus only find it
appropriate to end it with our own. Our forecasting however does not have to do so much with
the practical aspects of gamification but rather with its shortcomings for games in general.
Thus we would like to start with an anecdote that we find very relevant when discussing the
future of gamification.
At the very birth of Game Studies, or the scholarly study of games, the field faced a crucial
(academic) challenge; the vast underexplored land of games became the landscape for an
academic El Dorado which was soon roamed with scholars of different backgrounds. Some
treated it as the land of opportunity, where new thought and practice could flourish while some
others as a new land of potential academic colonialism, where games could be just a part of a
bigger existing academic field (namely literary studies, media studies, computer science etc.).
The inescapable conflict materialized in a rather polemic climate which has been noted in the

for a study of games as narrative forms that should be approached with narratology theory,
while Ludologists stood for a study of games on their own terms acknowledging that they are
unique mediums different from stories and film. The result was on the side of ludology and
indeed Game Studies is nowadays an independent academic field.
So how does the narratology-VS-ludology conflict ascribe in our gamification forecast? The
future of gamification we foresee passes through a very similar conflict with games being again
at the epicenter of it. The similarities between the ground that gave rise to the narratology-VSludology conflict and the landscape within which gamification lies are only contributing to our
prognosis. The same way that they looked like a promising El Dorado for the first explorers of
Game Studies, games nowadays seem more than ever a domain of opportunities for different
kinds of individuals with variable backgrounds, understandings and ambitions. As such, we see
games as the apple of discord on levels that span way beyond a semantic dimension, like
marketing, business, design and technology. Thus we foresee an existential challenge for

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

academic history of the field as the narratology-VS-ludology debates. Narratologists argued

1
3
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

games as many claim them or parts of them for their own domain; if the narratology-VSludology conflict was about what the game IS then this conflict will be WHOSE the game is73.
What does this mean for games and gamification then? It means that when discussing about
games, game design, game mechanics and gamification, it is always important to be critical
about the motivation of the speaker. For it is the motivation of gamifiers that will undoubtedly
direct/judge the future of it at large, both in the way they are designed, but also in their very
nature and the way they are perceived. As with the narratology-VS-ludology conflict the
resolution was weighted on the motivation of Ludologists to study games for their own sake,
acknowledging that there are unique qualities that cannot be examined under the prism of
existing methods, we believe that we should also be wary of the motivating factors that drive

Chapter: 6. Coordination: A Step towards Gamification

individuals into talking and claiming things about games, game design and gamification.

Of course it is hard to miss the irony here; while ludology won, leading to a study of games as formal
abstract systems, it also laid the ground for others claiming parts of such systems.
73

1
3
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

7. Bibliography
Works Cited
Aarseth, E. (2001, 6). Game Studies: Our mission. Retrieved 1 1, 2010, from Game Studies:
http://gamestudies.org/1001/about
Alexander, L. (2009, June 2). NPD Reveals Stats On Digital Distribution's Growth. Retrieved
January 1, 2011, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/23879/NPD_Reveals_Stats_On_Digital_Distributions
_Growth.php
Ashlock, J. (2009, 12 6). Stamen. ID-Mag , http://www.id-mag.com/article/Stamen/.
Bailey, C., & Katchabaw, M. J. (2005). An ExperimentalTestbed to Enable Auto-Dynamic
Difficulty in ModernVideo Games. GameOn NorthAmerica Conference. Montreal, Canada.
Bartle, R. A. (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. Berkeley, California: New Riders.
Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry,
Evolution, and Epistemology. University Of Chicago Press.
BBC News. (2011, 2 22). Chinese online gamer dies after three-day session. Retrieved 3 1,

Bell, G., & Dourish, P. (2007). Yesterdays Tomorrows: Notes onUbiquitous Computings
Dominant Vision. Personal and UbiquitousComputing , 11 (2), pp. 133-143.
Berghammer, B. (2002, 2 24). Nintendo getting sued over wrongful death. Retrieved 1 1, 2011,
from Nintendo World Report: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/news/7043
Bdker, S., & Kammersgaard, J. (1984). Interaktionsbegreber, internt arbejdsnotat, version 2.

Chapter: 7. Bibliography

2011, from BBC News Asia Pacific: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific12541769

1
3
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Boehner, K., Sengers, P., & Warner, S. (2008, December ). Interfaces with the ineffable:
Meeting aesthetic experience on its own terms. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. , 15
(3).
Boehner, K., Vertesi, J., Sengers, P., & Dourish, P. (2007). How HCI interprets the probes. CHI
(pp. 1077-1086). New York: ACM Press.
Bogost, I. (2010, 3 3). Persuasive Games: Shell Games. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4294/persuasive_games_shell_games.php
Boyer, B. (2008, April 2). NPD: 72% Of U.S. Plays Games, Only 2-3% Own Multiple Consoles.
Retrieved january 1, 2011, from Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/phpbin/news_index.php?story=18107
Bunchball.Com. (2010, 10). Gamification 101:An Introduction to the Use of Game Dynamicsto
Influence Behavior. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from Bunchball Corporate Web site:
http://www.bunchball.com/gamification/gamification101.pdf
Buxton, B. (2007). Sketching user experiences: getting the design right and the right design.
Morgan Kaufmann.
Canossa, A., & Drachen, A. (2009). Play-Personas: Behaviours and Belief Systems in UserCentred Game Design. Tom Gross, Jan Gul. 12th IFIP TC 13 International Conference on
Human-Computer Interaction: Part II (INTERACT '09) (pp. 510-523). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Carse, J. (1986). Finite and infinite games. New York: Ballantine Books.
Castronova, E. (2007). Exodus to the virtual world: how online fun is changing reality. Palgrave
Macmillan.

Japan.
Chalmers, M. (2001). A Historical View of Context. Journal of CSCW , 13 (3), 223-247.
Champion, E. (2011, 1 27). Jane McGonigals Mind is Broken. Retrieved 2 1, 2011, from
Reluctant Habits: A Cultural Website in Ever-Shifting Standing:
http://www.edrants.com/jane-mcgonigals-mind-is-broken/

Chapter: Works Cited

Castronova, E. (2007, 9 26). Keynote: "Perfidious Economy". DiGRA Conference 2007 . Tokyo,

1
3
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Chaplin, H. (2011, 3 29). I Don't Want To Be a Superhero: Ditching reality for a game isn't as fun
as it sounds. Retrieved 4 2011, 1, from Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2289302/
Chen, J. (2007). Flow in games (and everything else). Communications of the ACM (50, 4), 3134.
Christensen, C. M., & Raynor, M. E. (2003). The Innovator's Solution. Boston, MA: Harvard
Business School Publishing.
Cskszentmihlyi, M. (1991). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York:
HarperCollins Publishers.
Cskszentmihlyi, M. (1976). What Play Says about Behaviour. Ontario Psychologist , 8 (2), pp.
5-11.
Davies, R. (2009). Keynote at Playfull '09. Playfull '09. London: available at:
http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2009/11/playful.html.
Dey, A. (2001). Understanding and Using Context. Personal and UbiquitousComputing , 5 (1),
pp. 4-7.
Djajadiningrat, J. P., Overbeeke, C. J., & Wensveen, S. A. (2000). Augmenting fun and beauty:
a pamphlet. DARE 2000 on Designing augmented reality environments (DARE '00) (pp. 131134). New York, NY, USA: ACM.
Dourish, P. (2004). What We Talk About When We Talk About Context. Personal and Ubiquitous
Computing , 19-30.
Dourish, P. (2001). Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. MIT Press.

Design. The MIT Press.


Dunne, A., & Gaver, W. W. (1997). The Pillow: Artist-designers in the digital age. Conference
Companion for CHI97.
Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2001). Design noir: the secret life of electronic objects. Birkhuser.

Chapter: Works Cited

Dunne, A. (2008). Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical

1
3
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Ehn, P., Sjgren, D., & Mllerud, B. (1992). Playing in reality: A model case. European Journal
of Information Systems , 321332.
Fabricant, R. (2009, 3 15). Behavior is our Medium. (http://library.ixda.org/node/3) .
Farbricant, R. (2010, 9 11). Design With Intent: How designers can influence behavio. Retrieved
1 1, 2011, from Change Observer:
http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=14338
Ferster, C. B., & Skinner, B. F. (1957). Schedules of reinforcement. Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Fullerton, T., Swain, C., & Hoffman, S. (2008). Game design workshop: a playcentric approach
to creating innovative games. Morgan Kaufmann.
Gabler, K., Gray, K., Kukic, M., & Shodhan, S. (2005, October 26). How to Prototype a Game in
Under 7 Days: Tips and Tricks from 4 Grad Students Who Made Over 50 Games in 1
Semester . Retrieved December 10, 2009, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20051026/gabler_01.shtml
Gant, D., & Kiesler, S. (2002). Blurring the Boundaries: Cell Phones, Mobility, and the Line
between Work and Personal Life. In B. Brown, N. Green, & R. Harper (Eds.), Wireless
World: Social and Interactional Apects of the Mobile Age (pp. 121-131). Springer-Verlag.
Gaver, W. W. (2002). Designing for Homo Ludens. I3Magazine No. 12 .
Gaver, W. W., Beaver, j., & Benford, S. (2003). Ambiguity as a Resource for Design. In
Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI '03)

Gaver, W. W., Bowers, J., Boucher, A., Gellerson, H., Pennington, S., Schmidt, A., et al. (2004).
Gaver, W., Bowers, J., Boucher, A., Gellerson, H., Pennington, S., Schmidt, A.,Steed, A.,
Villars, N., and Walker, B. (2004). The Drift Table: Designing forludic engagement. CHI04
Design Expo. New York: ACM Press.
Gizmodo. (2006, 5 16). Console Prices Adjusted for Inflation OR $500 Aint 'Spensive. Retrieved
1 1, 2011, from Gizmodo: http://gizmodo.com/#!174085/console-prices-adjusted-forinflation-or-500-aint-spensive

Chapter: Works Cited

(pp. 233-240). New York, NY, USA: ACM.

1
4
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Graft, C. (2010, December 17). NPD: 29% Of U.S. Game Sales Were Digital In Last Three
Months. Retrieved January 1, 2011, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/32091/NPD_29_Of_US_Game_Sales_Were_Digital_I
n_Last_Three_Months.php
Graft, C. (2009, December 3). NPD: 82% Of U.S. Children Are Gamers, As Older Teens Game
Less. Retrieved January 1, 2011, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/26363/NPD_82_Of_US_Children_Are_Gamers_As_
Older_Teens_Game_Less.php
Graft, C. (2010, March 2). NPD: Online Gaming Hours Rise 10 Percent In U.S. Retrieved January
1, 2011, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/27475/NPD_Online_Gaming_Hours_Rise_10_Perce
nt_In_US.php
Graft, K. (2010, May 27). Average Gaming Time On The Rise In U.S. Retrieved January 1, 2011,
from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/28729/Average_Gaming_Time_On_The_Rise_In_US
.php
Graves Petersen, M., Ljungblad, S., & Hakansson, M. (2009). Designing for Playful
Photography. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia , 15 (2), 193-209.
Guardian. (2010). Budget 2010: The good, the bad and the scrumpy, 25 March. Guardian.
Hakansson, M. (2009, 2 26). Playing with Context: Explicit and Implicit Interaction in Mobile
Media Applications. Doctoral thesis . Kista, Sweden: Institutionen fr data- och

Hamari, J., & Lehdonvirta, V. (2010). Game design as marketing: How game mechanics create
demand for virtual goods. International Journal of Business Science and Applied
Management , 5 (1), pp. 14-29.
Hans, J. S. (1981). Play of the World. Boston: University of Massachusetts.
Haque, A. (2010, 12 15). Unlocking the Mayor Badge of Meaninglessness. Retrieved 1 1, 2011,
from Harvard Business Review:
http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2010/12/unlocking_the_mayor_badge_of_m.html

Chapter: Works Cited

systemvetenskap.

1
4
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004). MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and
Game Research. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from
http://www.cs.northwestern.edu/~hunicke/MDA.pdf
IDEO. (2009). Hybrid Electric Vehicle Interaction. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from IDEO Corporate
website: http://www.ideo.com/work/hybrid-electric-vehicle-dashboard-interaction
Jenkins, H. (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. Routledge.
Johnson, B. (2008, 3 5). Online gamers play at swapping gender. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from
Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/mar/05/games.internet
Juul, J. (2010). A Casual Revolution. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Juul, J. (2011, 2 10). The Dangers of Games in the Workplace. Retrieved 2 22, 2011, from The
Ludologist: http://www.jesperjuul.net/ludologist/the-danger-of-games-in-the-workplace
Ju-Whan, K., Yun-Kyung, K., & Tek-Jin, N. (2009). The tnr: design for supporting energy
conservation behaviors. Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended
abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (CHI EA '09) (pp. 2643-2646). New York,
NY, USA: ACM.
Kawakami, K. (2004). Bumper book of unuseless Japanese inventions: the art of Chindogu. (H.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, Ed., & D. Papia, Trans.) HarperCollins Publishers.
Kawakami, K., & Papia, D. (1995). 101 unuseless Japanese inventions: the art of chindogu. (H.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, Ed.) W. W. Norton.
Khalavsky, J., & Sheroff, N. (1999). Understanding the Seductive Experience. Communications

Kim, A. J. (2011, 2 28). Gamification 101: Design the Player Journey [Powerpoint slides]. Game
Developers Conference (GDC) . San Fransisco.
Kim, A. J. (2009, January 29). Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to
Functional Software. Presentation . GoogleTechTalks.
Kline, S., Dyer-Witherford, N., & De Peuter, G. (2003). Digital play: the interaction of technology,
culture, and marketing. McGill-Queen's Press.

Chapter: Works Cited

of the ACM , 42 (5), 45-49.

1
4
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Kohn, A. (2001). Punished by Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, As, Praise,
and Other Bribes. Replica Books.
Koster, R. (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Paraglyph Press.
Kuittinen, J., Kultima, A., Niemel, J., & Paavilainen, J. (2007). Casual Games Discussion.
Proceedings of the 2007 Conference on Future Play, (pp. 105-112).
Kumar, M. (2007, April 25). NPD: 25-34 Age Group Biggest Mobile Gamers. Retrieved January
1, 2011, from Gamasutra:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/13674/NPD_2534_Age_Group_Biggest_Mobile_Ga
mers.php
Langer, E. j. (1989). Minding Matters: The Consequences of Mindlessness-Mindfulness. In L.
Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Psychology (Vol. 22, pp. 137-173). Academic
Press Inc.
Leopoldseder, H., & Schpf, C. (2001). Cyberarts 2001. Birkhuser, 2001.
Lwgren, J. (2010, 10 7). (C. Iosifidis, Interviewer)
Lwgren, J. (2008). Five things I believe about the aesthetics of interaction design. Proceedings
of seminar on The study of visual aesthetics in human-computer interaction. German.
Lwgren, J. (2007). Pliability as an experiential quality: Exploring the aesthetics of interaction
design. Artifact , 1 (2), 8595.
Lwgren, J., & Stolterman, E. (2004). Thoughtful interaction design: A design perspective on
information technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

information technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Lwgren, J., Binder, T., & Malborg, L. (2009). Playing in reality. In J. Lwgren, T. Binder, & L.
Malborg, (Re)searching the digital Bauhaus (pp. 6-7). London : Springer-Verlag.
Myr, F. (2007). The Contextual Game Experience: On the Socio-Cultural Contexts for
Meaning in Digital Play. DIGRA 2007 Situated Play, (pp. 810-814).

Chapter: Works Cited

Lwgren, J., & Stolterman, E. (2004). Thoughtful interaction design: A design perspective on

1
4
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

McCabe, J. (2008, 3 6). Sexual harassment is rife online. No wonder women swap gender.
Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/mar/06/women.games
McCarthy, J., & Wright, P. (2004). Technology as Experience. MIT Press.
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can
Change the World. Penguin Group USA, Inc.
Melder, N. (2009, 1 16). Saatchi & Saatchi and T-Mobile Create Dance Mania. Retrieved 1 1,
2011, from Saatchi & Saatchi:
http://www.saatchi.com/news/archive/saatchi__saatchi_and_t-mobile_create_dance_mania
Montola, M. (2009). Games and Pervasive Games. In M. Montola, J. Stenros, & A. Wrn,
Pervasive Games: Theory and Design (pp. 7-23). Morgan Kaufmann.
Murray-Watson, A. (2007, 7 15). Second Life rival seeks 1bn UK listing. Retrieved 1 1, 2011,
from The independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/second-liferival-seeks-83641bn-uk-listing-457270.html
News.com.au. (2011, 1 1). MP staffer requests to play Facebook games while on the phone to
constituents. Retrieved 4 1, 2011, from News.com.au:
http://www.news.com.au/national/mp-staffer-requests-to-play-facebook-games-while-onthe-phone-to-constituents/story-e6frfkwi-1226013925352
Nocera, J. (1995). A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class. Simon
& Schuster.

Beyond usability (pp. 9-18). London: Taylor & Francis.


Oxford English Dictionaries Online. (2004, 7 8). flash mob. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from Oxford
English Dictionaries Online:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0972977#m_en_gb0972977
Petersen, M. G., Iversen, O. S., Krogh, P. G., & Ludvigsen, M. (2004). Aesthetic interaction: a
pragmatist's aesthetics of interactive systems and techniques (DIS '04). 5th conference on

Chapter: Works Cited

Overbeeke, C., Djajadiningrat, J., Hummels, C., & Wensveen, S. (2002). Beauty in Usability:
Forget about Ease of Use! . In W. Green, & P. Jordan (Eds.), Pleasure with products:

1
4
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Designing interactive systems: processes, practices (pp. 269-276). New York, NY, USA:
ACM.
Picard, R. W. (1999). Affective computing for HCI,"presented at HCI99, (Munich, Germany,
1999. Proceedings of HCI International (the 8th International Conference on HumanComputer Interaction) on Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces, I,
pp. 829-833. Munich.
Pine, J. B., & Gilmore, J. H. (1999). The experience economy: work is theatre & every business
a stage. Harvard Business Press.
Pop! Tech. (2009). Project MasilulekeA Breakthrough Initiative to Combat HIV/AIDSUtilizing
Mobile Technology & HIV Self-Testing in South Africa. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from Pop! Tech
Corporate Web site: http://poptech.org/project_m
Reeves, B., & Read, L. J. (2009). Total engagement: using games and virtual worlds to change
the way people. Harvard Business Press.
Riggs, F. W. (1989). Terminology and Lexicography: Their Complementarity. International
Journal of Lexicography , 2 (2), pp. 90-110.
Robertson, M. (2010, 10 6). Cant Play, Wont Play. Retrieved 1 1, 2011, from Hide and Seek:
Inventing New Ways of Play: http://www.hideandseek.net/cant-play-wont-play/
Robinett, W. (2006). Adventure as a Video Game. Adventure for the Atari 2600. In K. Salen, & E.
Zimmerman (Eds.), The Game Design Reader. A Rules of the Play Anthology (pp. 690
713). MIT Press.

(1), pp. 1-15.


Rojas, J. Re-imagining Chinatown: An Interactive Planning Process.
http://www.fifthfloorgallery.com/re-imagining-chinatown#. Fifth Floor Gallery, Los Angeles.
Saffer, D. (2006). Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices.
Peachpit Press.

Chapter: Works Cited

Rogers, Y., & Muller, H. (2005). A framework for designing sensor-based interactions to
promote exploration and reflection. International Journal ofHuman-Computer Studies , 64

1
4
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Schell, J. (2010, 2 28). Presentation: Design Outside The Box. DICE 2010 . Las Vegas,
Nevada: Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
Schell, J. (2010, 7 27). Visions of the Gamepocalypse. Presentation . San Francisco, California:
Long Now Foundations.
Schilit, B. N., & Theimer, M. M. (1994). Disseminating Active MapInformation to Mobile Hosts.
IEEE Network , 8 (5), pp. 22-32.
Sengers, P., Boehner, K., David, S., & Kayne, J. (2005). Reflective Design. Proceedings of the
4th Decennial Conference on Critical Computing (pp. 49-58). ACM Press.
Sengers, P., Kaye, J., Boehner, K., Fairbank, J., Gay, G., Medynskiy, Y., et al. (2004, January).
Culturally Embedded Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing , 1, pp. 14-21.
Sirlin, D. (2010, 2 22). External Rewards and Jesse Schell's Amazing Lecture. Retrieved 1 1,
2011, from Sirlin.net: http://www.sirlin.net/blog/2010/2/22/external-rewards-and-jesseschells-amazing-lecture.html
Solis, B. (2010). Engage!: the complete guide for brands and businesses to build, cultivate, and
measure success in the new web. John Wiley and Sons.
Stevens, P. (1978). Play and Work: A False Dichotomy. In H. B. Schwartzman (Ed.), Association
for the Anthropological Study of Play, (pp. 316-123).
Suits, B., & Hurka, T. (2005). The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. (T. Hurka, Trans.)
Broadview Press.

Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play between worlds: exploring online game culture. MIT Press.
Turton, L. (2011, 3 9). Toy Racer: Life-Size Play-Doh Car Sticks to Road. Retrieved 4 1, 2011,
from Chevrolet Media Corporate Website:
http://media.gm.com/content/media/gb/en/news.detail.brand_chevrolet.html/content/Page
s/news/gb/en/2011/CHEVROLET/03_09_orlan_doh

Chapter: Works Cited

Sweetser, P., & Wyeth, P. (2005). GameFlow: a model for evaluating player enjoyment in game.
Comput. Entertain , 3 (3).

1
4
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Von Restorff, H. (1933). "ber die Wirkung von Bereichsbildungen im Spurenfeld (The effects of
field formation in the trace field)". Psychologie Forschung (18), 299342.
Wark, M. (2007). Gamer Theory. Harvard University Press.
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_T%C3%A9n%C3%A9r%C3%A9
Wright, T. (2010, May 24). The Tragic Cost of Google Pac-Man 4.82 million hours. Retrieved
January 1, 2011, from The RescueTime Blog: http://blog.rescuetime.com/2010/05/24/thetragic-cost-of-google-pac-man-4-82-million-hours/
Yee, N. (2006). The labor of fun: How video games blur the boundaries of work and play.
Games and Culture , 1 (1), 6871.
Zichermann, G., & Linder, J. (2010). Game-based Marketing: Inspire Customer LoyaltyThrough
Rewards,Challenges,and Contests. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Zimmerman, E. (2009). Gaming Literacy: Game Design as Model for Litaracy in the 21st
Century. In J. Lwgren, T. Binder, & L. Malborg, (Re)searching the digital Bauhaus (pp.
179-190). London: Springer-Verlag.
Zimmerman, E., & Salen, K. (2004). Rules of play: game design fundamentals. MIT Press.
iek, S. (1998). Cogito and the unconscious. (S. iek, Ed.) Durham: Duke University Press.

Chapter: Works Cited

iek, S. (2003). The puppet and the dwarf: the perverse core of Christianity. MIT Press.

1
4
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

8. Appendix I

The following pages are excerpts from interviews conducted for this thesis during October
2010. The interviewees represent span form professionals of game and interaction design to
academic scholars and theoreticians. The connecting element among them is their interest in
the concept of gamification; the interviewees not always agree with each other and indeed one
can read both very optimistic and cynical responses in the following lines. We hope that his will
give the reader a and wider perspective on gamification.

8.1 Aki Jrvinen


Transcript, Skype interview with Aki Jrvinen, Lead Social Designer at Digital Chocolate
Copenhagen, October 5th 2010

AJ:
That is a good question. I think that basically, it has to go hand in hand with the fact that
peoples attention span is diminishing in online environments, because pretty much all the
applications that you are referring to are online applications right?
CI:

Yes, thats what we have been seeing so far.

AJ:
So for the people that are doing business online and are trying to capture the attention
of users/customers/players, evangelists of gamification seem to believe that a playful way to
engage attention and retain those people to come back to your application site or service is the
way to go. I think that there is where gamification found fertile ground.
That is my initial answer; we are reaching a point where people have the attention span of five
seconds when they are online and there seems to be a school of thought that believes that
game mechanics is the way to grab and prolong that attention beyond these five seconds. I

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
Whats your explanation, how weve come to this? How have we reached this point
where the discussion, even the actual practicing of game design in non-game services and
products has become so widespread?

1
4
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

havent really thought about that sort of broader history of how we have come to this, but this
would be my spontaneous answer.
CI:
Alright, so what do you think gamification is about, the players/users or the
game/service?
AJ:
I do think its not about the game. Its really about finding any means possible to keep
people attached to a product or service and actually make them pay for it. In principle they start
paying for it if they find some utility, some use, some sort of added value to it and of course
these gamification processes are trying to add value by entertaining the user, making the use
of the product or service entertaining, social and so on.
I think thats why mostly the people driving gamification, at least to my knowledge, dont have
necessarily a game development background. They are more likely to employ game designers
for these ideas. Thus I would say its more about marketing, rather that game development if
you think about it in the context of what kinds of professionals have started this movement.
CI:
I would like to stay on that; apparently these people are arguing as you said that
gamification is adding value to a product or service. But is that process is also taking something
out of it? Can gamification backlash?

CI:
I have recently read that you are also arguing that gamification is not really a layer you
can just out on top of anything.
AJ:

Yeah, I agree

CI:
So could you explain to me what gamification is for you, in relation to how much space is
there for innovation within gamification?
AJ:
I do think that there is room for innovation; I always like to think so. About the thing
argument, it was last week that this back and forth between Facebook and Google where Eric
Schmidt announced that Google is going to take their services to the next level by adding a
social layer to them and then Mark Zuckerberg replied that you cant just add a layer of social
services, it needs to be inherently social to start with.

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

AJ:
Sure, I do believe that there is some kind of nave thinking when you have a suboptimal
product or service and then just by adding some badges and achievements to it, you can say
that we gamified our service and its rocking! I think its well articulated by Sebastian
Deterding, in his Just add points? presentation, where he is arguing that this copy-pasting
game mechanics on top of an existing activity works best when there is not that much at stake.
For instance, if you are doing something that is voluntary, something that is intrinsically
motivated, then you can enhance this experience by adding game mechanics, or game reward
structures on top of that service. Flickr could be a good example of this, where people tend to
like sharing photos because its so convenient and easy; and then you can accelerate and
enhance, or enrich, this experience by rewarding these people with game-like goal structures.
But if you are developing a productivity-based tool or just something that has serious
consequences for a company or a business, for instance, then it might be that gamification is a
very risky approach. Of course, I dont have any hard proof that those principles work, but
intuitively I do think that there is some wisdom there.

1
4
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

So I think that gamification is somewhere on the same line, regardless whos going to with this.
I dont have any good practical examples, but if I was facing a task of gamifying a service or an
application, then I would try to align game mechanics and game design techniques with the
origin of the use case, or form of use that the service, or application, or site is meant for. And
that means that you will most likely explore many more game mechanics and game design
techniques rather than those that we see all around and in that case it would lay some ground
for innovation in the area.
CI:
I know that you have written about game mechanics. How do you feel about the use of
the term?
AJ:
Well, the older I get, the less passionate I become. I just cant bother nitpicking about it.
I still believe, deep in my heart, that it is a lazy use which is in line with this sort of marketing
bullshit, you know. I recently saw a tweet that wrote that there are twenty startups suggesting
that they are going to gamify the world and I think that most of those are playing on that game
mechanics discourse thats turned the term into a buzz word. So how do you gamify services
and applications? You put game mechanics in them. Of course that doesnt mean anything,
is such a broad concept.
I think that in order for the term to be useful you need to understand how game mechanics
relate to what the player does and the goals that you set as well as what kind of mechanics are
more probable to produce an experience, in terms of emotions and feelings, and then what are
the motivations of the players and what kind of game mechanics feed and motivate users and
players towards certain tasks.
I mean that any self-respecting professional working on this area will have their much more
refined division of game mechanics. Thus, then its a matter who do you talk to. If I would be a
consultant for gamification, I would probably have to use the term in this kind of sales talk
way, but when it comes to organizing my thinking, I would have a much more fine-grained
division. So I think it is really a matter of context in that case.

AJ:
Even with the danger of falling into using stereotypes, I do not think that a game
designer, who has been working on a certain AAA console titles, has a very clear
understanding of what works and what doesnt; I dont think that this [game designer] is the
optimal description for someone practicing gamification. I do think that the optimal person
would be somebody familiar with interaction design and knowledgeable about game design
because, in my opinion, these two intertwine here. Usually the context of use or play in this
case, to some extent, is very different than the circumscribed video game play experience.
I do not know where these people that evangelize gamification come from. It seems that it is a
mix of technology startups and marketing people, probably something like opportunists
looking for a buzz word, or hot sauce that they suppose will transform their clients
products.

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
So then in your view, who should be practicing gamification design? And then how do
you explain this mosaic of non game-related entrepreneurs that now make up the gamification
industry?

1
5
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Again, if I was given the opportunity to make a startup offering gamification services and
consulting, I would probably try to recruit people that have interaction design background but
also some knowledge of game design.
CI:
I like that you are mentioning interaction design here, because in interaction design in
general and in specific branches of it like Critical Design, there are more extensive, older and
established traditions of design for ludic interaction. But if you juxtapose them with the practical
dogmas of gamification, as it is evangelized today, you see that there are many contradictions.
What is your take on these contradictions?
AJ:
I do have the take that we havent really seen a sophisticated approach on gamification
from a business perspective yet. At the moment, there is no top-class design company like
IDEO who is pushing that way of gamification. However, in some sense they [IDEO] have been
doing that for years and years in a way; they have employed different design disciplines and
they have put design and user experience first. In such a way you are forced to think about
different ways to motivate people and different ways to create experiences. Also, another
example is toys; if you design toys then you gamify objects in a way.
So I do think that this gamification we are discussing today is, if not a bubble, an opportunistic
concept that is used without understanding of the whole toolset and probably without
understanding much about design anyway. But that of course does not mean that they couldnt
create something interesting; the pace in online business is fast and if you just manage to
produce solutions something interesting might come up and in the process we might have a
much clearer definition of gamification. Those are basically my thoughts.
CI:
Alright, one last question. So far we have been witnessing gamification solution very
closely tied to social media; so can we gamify anything?

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

AJ:
Formally I think yes. Of course it relates to what I said earlier, that gamification
techniques and design solutions should ideally align with the more utilitarian use of a service or
a product. If you dont start from an origin or intent and motivation of use then you are not
really practicing gamification, you are designing games. You must have some existing thing
that you want to gamify in order to be consistent with this thinking. I do think that in theory you
can gamify pretty much anything, but I dont know if it will work, if it will be socially acceptable,
or ethical? All these questions arise. You could for example gamify something atrocious like an
undertakers job, but I think that would be socially and ethically suspicious.

1
5
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

8.2 Jonas Lwgren


Transcript, Skype interview with Jonas Lwgren, Professor of interaction design at the
School of Arts and Communication, and Medea Collaborative Media Initiative, Malm
University
Copenhagen, October 7th 2010
CI:
Whats your explanation, how weve come to this? How have we reached this point
where the discussion, even the actual practicing of game design in non-game services and
products has become so widespread?
JL:
For me it seems to be fairly straight interpolation of a general trend that is seen in
interaction design for maybe five or ten years. If we go back to 1990s, interaction design was all
about usefulness and usability and figuring out what the purpose was and using software for
reasonable, rational kinds of tasks; basically an HCI kind of perspective. And that was
meaningful at that time because we used interactive services almost only at work.
Then what happened was that the Internet exploded in people's homes. Consumer products
started to come out and they were interactive, playful, that were about interactive media in
different ways. Mobile Internet also started to emerge and all these things worked in the same
direction; to make people start wanting great experiences. You know, fun and entertainment
and pleasure. And when people got that at home, it became harder for them to be comfortable
with the boring, dull, grey, sensible kind of rational applications that they had to use at work. So
for them it was different aspects of the same thing. They couldnt figure out why the internet at
work should be so bad and boring when the Internet at home was fantastic.

CI:
Right, I like that you position it so far back, since it is often claimed that gamification, as a
phenomenon, appeared in the past two years. I am also intrigued that you are positioning it into
that space, when things that were meant for productivity and other kinds of serious work
invaded home and acquired a different context. So in that sense, can you see the whole world
being transformed into a big design situation?
JL:
No, I think that this kind of perspective would be useful when it is useful. When there are
situations that are inherently about fun/pleasure, or could be made into that, then by all means
go ahead. But I can also image that there are many situations we don't want to have to play a
little game to get your documents from the server. Basically, what I think is that we have
opened up the spectrum of experiences. It used to be focused only on the side of the sensible-

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

I think that maybe what you see in gamification is another example of the same direction. What
you have seen in academia and research in interaction design is the massive growth of the
concept of experience. Also people who have been training in psychology and HCI started
thinking about ok what is pleasure? What is experience? How can we measure it and how can
we design for it? For the next years CHI, the overall theme is going to be experience and that
is a significant statement for that community which has always been rooted in HCI and
instrumental kinds of perspectives. So I suppose for me, gamification of non-game services
and products is an example of the same kind of trend.

1
5
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

rational-instrumental. Now we have opened up the spectrum. But the initial part about sensible
and rational is still there. And there are obviously examples of experiences that should be
sensible-rational, perhaps even serene or of awe-inspiring.
CI:

Is gamification is a layer?

JL:
I think gamification should not be a layer. Im thinking here of the notion of serious
games which has been used in learning technology for quite some time now and most of the
examples you see are of the form: You want kids to learn math; so you give them some math
exercises on the computer dressed up as a game and if the pass/answer the exercises
correctly then they get to shoot monsters for five minutes and then another set of math
exercises. Is just too obvious, too silly, its a trick basically. And those kinds of approaches are
really not the way to go.
CI:
I liked that you mention the example of serious games, but still, I would like to hear your
explanation; why people believe that even this approach has something to offer? What is that
games inherently have that could change the reality behind that boring exercise?
JL:
I think that most people and most good designers and most researchers today argue
that you don't do that. You don't gamify something that is not a game. But what you can do is
you can create interesting playable games that have also learning effects. So if you take it from
scratch and you build a game that is actually interesting to play, in a way that you also need to
learn stuff in order to proceed in the game, then it is a different story and that is kind of
pedagogically motivating as well. I think thats where the state of art is in serious games.

CI: Alright. In your opinion who should be practicing gamification design?


JL:
I have to make a reservation here since I don't know very much about these debates
and I haven't read these people you are talking about. So without knowing so much about the
field, my general answer would be that gamifiers, would work with other kinds of designers in
collaboration. They would work with the people who design media today, with people who
design services, with the people who design applications and utility/productivity kind of
programs and they would add their expertise to the multidisciplinary mix of these design
process. It wouldnt be that good I think, if they saw themselves as some kind of outside force,
some kind of avant-garde who would just take the stuff that everybody else is doing and then

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

But there's also another aspect which is that sometimes at least in schools today you need to
be very pragmatic. You can't always do what's best pedagogically sometimes you just need to
make those five guys sit down and shut up for fifteen minutes so we can teach the other kids.
And if you have a layered kind of game, some entertainment, slapped onto some math
exercises that will keep those boys happy for fifteen minutes and keep them quiet then it
actually serves a purpose. Even though pedagogically is a crappy idea, it is pragmatically very
sensible idea because the whole situation in classroom is such that you need to find a way for
those five boys to occupy themselves and basically sit down and be quiet for fifteen minutes
and you cant do it in any other way, because they will start throwing pencils at each other,
while if you put them in front of this game, they will happily sit down and there is in fact some
little math in it, so it doesnt go totally wasted. So those suspects are also part of the everyday
design sort of space.

1
5
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

trying to gamify them afterwards, because then they would be adding these silly layers on top
of things that were thought different.
Instead, if we were to compose a team that would do an overhaul of the website of a
municipality, for example; looking at public services such as information on housing or some
form of civic applications handling, I think it would be a brilliant idea to engage gamification
people from the start in that process to help look out for the ludic, or pleasurable, or the
intrinsically motivating aspects of what would otherwise be seen as boring, administrative
tasks. Then perhaps together with those people you could redesign the whole tasks or the
whole service offering in a new kind of way. And that would be so much more powerful than
doing the website first and then some consultant comes along and puts a layer of Mario
Brothers on top of it, because that would be silly. So that is basically what I think.
CI:
So what about productivity and utility. What does gamification mean for productivitydriven solutions?
JL:
I think this is a classic example of that you shouldn't separate instrument from the
aesthetical. I mean this is an old, very old debate in HCI and interaction design. Like I said,
interaction design started with the instrumental; productivity-utility-relevance-usefulness and
then when experience and pleasure started coming into the mix, people tried to keep them
separate and talk about the productivity value and the entertainment value something that I
think is a fundamental mistake because people don't do that kind of separation. People are
whole people and when they use an application, they use their whole body and their whole
mind. So even when you are doing spreadsheets in Excel there are aspects of aesthetic
experience involved and you can tap those if know how to do it and make the very serious,
very strict, businesslike kind of task more motivational, more pleasurable, even more
productive.

CI:
I like that you mention intrinsic motivation, you see there is a strong tendency for
comparing the feedback from games, with the complex feedback exchange in our daily
interactions. Would you agree with a glass/black box examination of life in terms of feedback?
JL:
Instinctively my reaction would be to say that the kind of unambiguous feedback that
you get in simple games doesn't do anything for you in terms of coming to terms with life and
with work and with being human. I think the key really is that feedback is complex, ambiguous,
socially founded and to me at least the strongest motivational factor for people in any situation,
if you want to generalize to an absurd level, is other people. We are fundamentally social
creatures. Its much more important for me what people I know and care about do, think that if I
see something on the screen that says you have twenty -eight points more to go before you
reach the third level. Thats superficial, thats just a gambit; something I can spend five minutes

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

The starting point here is to not separate the instrumental and the aesthetic but rather to realize
that there are just two sides of the same phenomena, the same experience. And that means for
your question that if you do gamification well, you will be able to create services, products,
interactive experiences n general that are more intrinsically motivational, while at the same time
they don't take anything away from the productivity, the utility. So in fact that would be an
addition to the total rather than taking something away, thats what I think but I don't really
know the good examples here again, I don't know the field very well.

1
5
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

on when I am bored. But what is important to me in the long-term, both professionally and in
my private life, is other people and the social and communicational aspects of life. That's where
the real motivation comes from.
A conclusion from that observation for gamification would be that the way forward for
gamification is multiplayer games; social games, games like Farmvile on Facebook, which
obviously means something, adds another layer of communication to the lightweight social
kind of substrate that Facebook is. Thats to me an interesting example of gamification now I
think of it. If you compare in your mind Facebook without Farmville and Facebook with
Farmville you can see that Facebook with Farmville provides a slightly richer channel for
communication. A slightly better chance of getting into some sort of lightweight engagement
with another person that you would probably not have engaged with hadnt been for Farmvile.
So Farmvile in that reading serves as a communicational prop; something you can use as
crutch to facilitate communication and add a little more richness to your social play which
Facebook is essentially about. Facebook is not very much about utility of course it's more
about social play. And Farmvile adds some tools, if you will, to play that social game in a
slightly more rich way. So thats an interesting example of gamification. Maybe, or maybe not, I
dont know if it fits the exact definition of gamification.
CI:
Not entirely, at least in the way that is currently used, since it is regarded that it must
serve a non-recreational purpose.
JL:
Ok, I see. If you want you can analyze Facebook and Farmvile to serve a nonrecreational purpose. Such a reading would be about assessing your place among other
people, working on your self-esteem, working on your self-image, working your identity,
growing as a person and keeping in touch. So there are several social purposes of Facebook
that I could argue or not recreational but maybe its till really not the kind of thing you are
thinking about.

JL:
Thats where the real power comes from. But you could probably find examples of
purely individual tasks that would be more engaging to people if they were gamified. But again
to me the most powerful motivation engine is the social. ESP games are also examples of
gamification of intrinsically boring tasks which you turn into interesting challenges just by
gamifying them. But the whole point of those games is that they are social games. You
compete with another person or with other people and you see your score on the high score
lists where you compete with other people. So if you did it in isolation you would get fed up
with it after five minutes. But as it happens in a social context, it can keep people occupied for
hours.
CI:
So what does this mean for interaction design? Do you think that gamification as it its
going to shift the cores of interaction design?
JL:
I see interaction design is moving as moving already, like I said in the beginning,
towards a more holistic view of experience design. When you design for both pleasure and

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
I think you are still right, because the core of your answer is that you we cant think of
gamification without thinking the social; that gamification is essentially meant to enrich social
interactions.

1
5
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

productivity at the same time in almost any design situation, you consider all those aspects.
What I think gamification perhaps could speed up that process, by introducing specifically the
notion of gaming and gameplay and the kind of intrinsic motivation and ludic pleasure that
comes with gaming.
In interaction design, we have the occasional pioneer who talks about ludic interaction already;
Bill Gaver is famous name in this field. But if he was supported by some people who could
show with specific examples how something apparently productivity oriented was gamified and
people felt that it was more engaging, more interesting and they did better work with it, then his
position would get strengthened even further and that would support the ongoing shift in
interaction design towards a holistic experience. Thats what I think.
CI:
Thats very interesting, because Bill Gavers design for Homo Ludens approach, is so
very far from how gamification is advocated today and that has been generating, at least for me,
a lot of controversy about having the two co-existing. But it seems that you claim that even such
a gamification approach would strengthen Gavers point at least within the interaction design
community.
JL:
Again this may be because I don't know the field, but I made a very simple argument
here. If Bill wants us to design for Homo Ludens, then one thing that we can do for Homo
Ludens to make her happy, is to give her games and gameplay, because that's one of things
we do when we play. And it is also appealing to many people. So game design should be part
of the competence mix for a team wanting to design for ludic interaction. That is the place at
the table where a gamification evangelist could put his seat and contribute.

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

If had a table with a team who was said: ok we are going to design for ludic interaction
because we believe in Bill; then they could clearly benefit from saving a chair for someone
from the game design field, it seems kind of obvious to me. Its a bit of a surprise when I think
of it, that Bill has never worked with game designers as far I know. That seems a kind of an
obvious setup for project already back in 2005 maybe, when he did these pillows and wrote
this paper about Homo Ludens. At that point it's slightly surprising that he didn't realize that he
should be working with a couple of game design companies because they should know a lot
for Homo Ludens and play. But it seems that he had never made that connection and thats a
little strange because it is like an obvious connection now that we talked about it.

1
5
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

8.3 Kars Alfrink


Transcript, Skype interview with Kars Alfrink, independent interaction and game designer,
founder of Hubbub
Copenhagen, October 8th 2010
CI:
Whats your explanation, how weve come to this? How have we reached this point
where the discussion, even the actual practicing of game design in non-game services and
products has become so widespread?
KA:
Thats a good question. From a personal perspective, I was working as an interaction
designer, this was 2006, and I ran into a several projects or things that reinvigorated my interest
in game design because when I was studying interaction design back in art school, I was really
interested in games as a form of interaction design. So from that perspective, I did a lot of
game-like projects back then.
After that, I went into the field of interaction design and at some point around the August of
2006 I saw several projects, mostly in the area of pervasive games and alternate reality games
that I found really interesting as an interaction designer. Then I decided to spend some time
diving into the field and see how it progressed. It was at that time that Rules of Play had been
published and I started reading that.

I think those were two seeds, at least for me personally, to start thinking that we have reached
this point where on the one hand it is a band of people who think it is okay to design games
which arent the typical videogames, while on the other hand there is this understanding of
game design as a discipline that is not tight, that is not medium specific if you will. Again, I
found so refreshing about Rules of Play for instance, is that it defines game design not in
terms of any particular medium. I think that this opened the way for what people call
gamification, which I think is horrible term. I guess that's the basis for that development.
Its been this kind of progression as I see it; on one hand, more people, or at least some
people, outside the field understanding what game design is about and on the other hand this
acceptance that games are not about joypads and pixels on screens etc.
CI:
You do mention that GD is not really bound to a medium to be applied on. How do you
see the view that we can gamify everything now, that the whole world now shifts towards a
design situation which awaits game design to be applied on it?

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

So there are two things already. One is that, these games that werent typical video games
anymore started emerging and two is that a much more rigorous theoretical basis had been
developed in the game design community; so the knowledge had been shared and had
become much more shareable and understandable also for interaction designers. So when I
started reading, I could identify a lot of that knowledge as an interaction designer, but also
identify the differences. Thus, you could really appreciate design as discipline much better
around that time.

1
5
7

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

KA:
To be honest, I think that this notion of gamification is kind of problematic. Ever since
this moment I described, of me being interested in games again, diving into and gradually
progressing into making games, saying goodbye to doing your typical interaction design for
the Web and moving into games, I've always struggled with his notion of making utilitarian
software game-like. What does that mean anyway? So I actually don't believe you can just
gamify anything unless you define gamifying something as just adding a points mechanism
or an achievements mechanism to an experience that in all other respects isnt playful at all.
So the answer is yes and no.
CI:

Is gamification as a layer?

KA:
No, its easy to think about it like that, but if you grasp, if you actually sit down and start
designing something, it doesn't work like adding another layer. Of course you can have a
layered experience but I don't think the most productive way of doing this, is actually taking
something then adding a layer. It doesn't appeal to me at least. I don't really prefer to work in
that manner anyway. I am always interested in systems. On a more abstract level, making a
system more playful is to make it more open to tinkering, more open and looser so that people
can play around with it.
On a very abstract level, gamification for me is to make something more playful, something
different from the examples you see in examples that Jesse Schell is talking about. For
instance, if you think of it in those terms then it quickly becomes apparent that it's not layer; you
are adding something to an existing system, because at the lowest level it is still a very rigid
system that's about efficiency for instance.
CI:
So what are the implications in productivity and utility, do we abolish them since
everything must become playful?

CI:
But Jesse Schell, and excuse me for becoming his advocate here, claims that games are
much better at providing clear feedback, much more unambiguous feedback than reality. Thus,
in this sense, should we be examining real life as a series of glass/black box processes?
KA:
You know, feedback is a very basic interaction design concept. I think that some of
these ideas are just a reframing of just proper interaction design to be honest. Because the dull
notion of clear and discernible feedback is something that interaction designers work with all
the time.
So you could also understand this gamification thing as just a different way of saying that some
stuff needs to be designed in a more proper way. But then I don't agree with the idea that just

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

KA:
It is kind of decadent actually, if you think about it. This idea that people are working
with these tools and software and it is boring and they should be having more fun. Thus, we
game designers can make it more fun and when they have more fun they can do more work or
they can do their work better. Ultimately that is the point right? The Jesse Schell example with
the toothbrush that gives you points; ultimately the idea there is that you become a better
toothbrusher, which has nothing to do with play because at the end there still the principle of
usefulness and I dont know if that is a paradox, but is certainly a contradiction to some extent.
So I think that the danger is that work doesnt become play but play becomes work in a way.
So people are told they are playing but actually they are still working.

1
5
8

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

making stuff have better feedback, instantly turns them into something playful or game-like. But
in general, I think that is okay; I think it is a good thing to strive for good feedback in any kind of
interactive system. But that does not mean that we're making everything game-like.
CI:
Do you see a shift in interaction design. Do you think that this gamification
movement/trend is going to change up to a certain degree interaction design?
KA:
Certainly I think that, at least some people who are involved in this domain, have an
interaction design background and gamification as a field is influencing interaction design, but
interaction design is also a field in a turbulent phase at the moment anyway.
On one hand there are people who kind of moved away from the craft-like aspects of
interaction design and are interested in applying interaction design in a strategic,
organizational level, which is tied to the field of service design. And then you have people
becoming disenchanted about the old principles of interaction design; especially with the
whole user experience idea, user-centered design methods etc, essentially revaluating the
principles of interaction design, what should and should not represent. I also think that this
persuasive design thinking that's been happening for a while is also something that's
connected to this gamification idea. So actually interaction design as a field is fragmented.
Thus, this is just another or another facet of vary multifaceted field anyway. I don't think that
interaction design will become this playful/ludic thing; it doesn't have to be either.
CI:

So who should be practicing gamification?

KA:
Thats a trick question. I don't know if anyone should. In the kind of Jesse Schell talks
about?

KA:
I dont know. I work with game designers, interaction designers and product designers,
people who have all kinds of backgrounds and I think potentially a lot of those, if not all, can
deal with this problem in some way. Obviously game designers have a better understanding of
the motivational side of things, something that interaction designers have much less affinity
with, but then what your typical interaction designer, and I am generalizing here, has more
empathy for people with other backgrounds than your typical game designer who's interested
in designing videogames.
But I work with people from all different backgrounds who are all exceptions to this rule, so I
dont think it would be fair to say that anyone with a certain background should have a kind of
monopoly in doing gamification. Again, obviously I think you would need a mix.
CI:
So how would you explain the mosaic of the gamification evangelists, who dont
necessarily come from a games background, but rather, a technologist or marketer one.
KA:
This is true, and this is something that I find disturbing. But if you would want to sit
down and do a project that would involve gamification, then I think you would need a mix of

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
Yes you could use Jesse Schells talk as a reference, since he hinted that these
embryonic examples of gamification are very early and they lack game design; so the future of
gamification will be even brighter when game designers get more involved. So would you agree
that game designers should be practicing gamification?

1
5
9

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

backgrounds but I am aware that the push to do this kind of stuff, certainly comes from
different backgrounds.
I think you're right in saying that, a large amount of the push isn't given by people who, and
sorry if I am being harsh, aren't that interested in peoples well-being per se. They're either
interested in seeing what they might be able to do with a new kind of technology, or all these
pervasive technologies, as a kind of grotesque experiment, or applying these points and
achievements systems as just a repackaging of old loyalty programs which have been very
successful in the past and some of them are very well designed but I wouldn't call them playful
and game-like at all. I've always been, and thats a personal flaw, very distrustful of people in
marketing, so there you go.
CI:
One last question. What do you think gamification is about or what should it be about?
Players/Users or the Game/Service-Product?

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

KA:
I think it is about things and the systems that you might build and not so much about
people and effects you might have. However, I think, and this is a personal philosophy, it
should be the other way around. So far it has been mostly about imagine all this cool stuff we
could do if we had X. and Y., but not so much about the player. So what it is really good for
and what it isnt that good for; and in what ways could you add some playful elements to things
and in what cases you shouldnt. Sebastian [Deterding] for instance, argues that in some cases
it is actually harmful; it is not helpful at all. So the feeling for the kind of context dependency for
gamification is lacking.

1
6
0

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

8.4 Richard Bartle


Correspondence, e-Mail interview with Dr. Richard A. Bartle, Senior Lecturer and Visiting
Professor of Computer Game Design at the University of Essex, UK, co-writer of the first
virtual world, MUD (1978), and author of "Designing Virtual Worlds".
Copenhagen, October 10th 2010
CI:
Whats your explanation, how weve come to this? How have we reached this point
where the discussion, even the actual practicing of game design in non-game services and
products has become so widespread?
RB:
My explanation is that games are regarded as a low form of entertainment not worthy of
serious attention. Otherwise, we'd have gone past this point years ago. Most of the people who
discuss game design can't do it, don't know what it can do, and are only jumping on a
bandwagon anyway; some are genuine, but too few of them are game designers for us to see
much impact.
CI: What were the key factors/events/trends for that?
RB:
Computer games became commercially successful, therefore they became important.
However, research funding is not geared for games, and even if it were there are too many
people who don't understand them and are afraid of them. For this reason, games can't be
studied as games, except in a few enlightened countries (eg. Scandinavia) or countries in
which commercial opportunity trumps social concerns (eg. the USA). Otherwise, if you're a
games researcher then you're only going to get funds if you can promise something worthy
from them (entertainment not being "worthy" in this context). This means we get serious games.
It's like film in the 1930s: would governments back then fund movie development? Well
perhaps for educational purposes (which is why the UK is great at documentaries) but not for
pure entertainment.
CI:

How do you feel about the term gamification?

CI:

What does gamification mean bout the product/service?

RB:
It means it's so unappealing on its own that people have to persuaded to use it by
means of cheap psychological tricks that they'll grok soon enough anyway.
CI:

Can we gamify anything?

RB:

No. We can't gamify games.

CI:
We hear a lot about adding value to products and services by applying gamification (or
using game mechanics to enhance the experience). Does it only add value? What does
gamification take out?

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

RB:
I'm fine with it - I've used it myself for decades. I'm not so keen on its current usage,
though, which seems to have little to do with making something into a game and more to do
with making something use techniques that came from games. It's no more games than Su
Doku is arithmetic.

1
6
1

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

RB:
It would rather depend on what you wanted to gamify. Some things are inappropriate
subjects - funerals, for example. You CAN gamify them, but the experience would be worse all
round for most people.
My concern about the current view of gamification is that it doesn't add any game. Its over-use
could have a detrimental effect on games.
CI:

Is gamification viewing "users as players" or "players as users"?

RB:

In its current form, it's viewing "players as objects". I loathe it.

CI:
Jesse Schell argues that games provide a much clearer feedback (unambiguous) than
reality.
RB:

They CAN, but there's nothing about games that says they MUST.

CI:
Would you agree to an examination of everyday life as a series of glass/black box (in
terms of feedback) processes?
RB:
There's more to it than that. Some of the best things in life happen in the imagination,
where there is no feedback at all.
CI:

Who should be practicing gamification?

RB:

Under the contemporary definition, only people who are trying to discredit it.

CI:
How do you explain this mosaic of (primarily) non-game related entrepreneurs and
evangelists that gamification as an industry is composed of?
RB:

Game designers know better than to do this. They actually care about their players.

CI:

What does this (gamification) mean for Game Design?

RB:

More work for game design consultants. Yay!

CI:

And for the video games industry?

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

RB:
It's only peripheral for the video games activity. It's like asking what Youtube clips mean
for the movie industry. There are some outliers that feed into it, but the rest are completely
separate.

1
6
2

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

8.5 Sebastian Deterding


Transcript, Skype interview with Sebastian Deterding, PhD researcher in communication
science at the Graduate School of the Research Center for Media and Communication,
Hamburg University, is well known about his international talks and presentations on
persuasive design and gamification.
Copenhagen, October 25th 2010
CI:
Whats your explanation, how weve come to this? How have we reached this point
where the discussion, even the actual practicing of game design in non-game services and
products has become so widespread?
SD:
My personal way dates back when I was starting a PhD in Utrecht, Netherlands, on
serious game design and the design of persuasive games and I came to the conclusion that as
the German saying goes serious games is basically shooting sparrows with cannon balls. It
means that it is a huge amount of effort and it is a huge amount of design work if you want to
persuade people by doing this. My conclusion was actually that when you want to influence
peoples behavior, using design principles behind games and apply them in the actual context
of the activity where the people already are, is a much more effective and efficient way, than
building a game and hope that people will seek out your game, will play it and will learn
something by playing it and then change their behavior.

I think though, that if you want to find out how the industry got there, you have to look from
both sides; you have to look at the game design part and you have to look at the interaction
design part. At the game design part I think it is basically the serious games and especially
alternate reality games community, with Jane McGonigal on the forefront, and pervasive games
people, that tried explore how we broaden all these up to include more and more everyday
reality. Their focus is still building real full-fledged games, so this is one side. The other side,
where the industry got there is interaction design and what you can see in interaction design is
that around 2008, the discourse in interaction design pretty much shifted towards the notions of
behavior and persuasion. We saw persuasive technology suddenly again taking up; you saw
people like Robert Fabricant [Frog Design] at the IXDA 2008 keynote saying Behavior is our
medium; you see how the whole interaction design movement starting to realize that they are
not just trying to make things visually appealing and extremely usable and easy, but what they
actually try to do is to influence and shape people's behavior. And from that impulses, as far as
I can see, certain people like Steven Anderson with his Seductive Interactions came to the
idea that games are potentially a pretty nice place to look at this since games are obviously
very good at shaping people's behaviors, to keep them playing simply. So that is where the
interaction design discussion came from, to look at games.

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

So, coming from the whole persuasive design perspective here, my personal way in, was this
realization that if you want to persuade people, or if you want to persuade people to change
their behaviors, trying to apply game principles in the context where people already are, where
the behavior is happening, is a much more promising venue than building serious games. That
is the angle where I came from.

1
6
3

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Finally, I think in the industry, that if there hadnt been Farmvile and its tremendous success
and if there hadn't been Foursquare and Foursquare being all the craze at the relevant industry
events like South by Southwest, I think it would have a much harder time picking up. So if
you have the game design movement with the alternate reality and pervasive games moving
there, and the interaction design movement that is coming from a persuasive technology angle
where certain people planted the idea: hey games is a good place to look at and finally two
successful industry cases that seeded the interest of the professional industry. Now you might
claim that Farmvile is not really gamification, but I think it got mixed up in the whole thing as
regards social media in general. So the social media people being the big industrys stream
right out, just saw Farmvile and said wow this is really picking up users and they are really
making money, what can we learn from that about social media? and that was sort of
answered by Foursquare where they saw that yeah sure we can turn or take parts of Farmvile
into interactive applications.
CI:
I like that you have already put a lot of things into the equation; so Ill pick up from the
last thing you said about the industry noticing these new types of users (playing games on
Facebook). So is gamification viewing the players as users, or the users as players?
SD:
To a large extent it depends who you are asking and how they are framing it. I think
there are two framings. One is the framing from people coming from game design, again Jane
McGonigal on the forefront, who will say well this is basically getting people to develop a
playful attitude at their whole life, thats what is all about. It is about instilling a player role
towards other applications and towards other stuff, thats their framing.
I think the framing that is currently predominant in the interaction design field, where the whole
applications are happening, is not about play and players at all. The framing is much more
about nudging users; its a very a very behaviorist framing of the user as sort of the gullible,
manipulable mass than being an active user, or even an active player. So I think that asking if
it is about the player or the user is the wrong framing of the question.

SD:
Id say not necessarily profiling. Ask again what is the background, why do people use
personas in interaction design in the first place? And the basic reason for personas, by Alan
Cooper, was to say well usually our engineers and our product managers are not the users,
and if we want them to have a clear idea of what our users are, or the users we aspire to,
perhaps we have to give them not quantitative numbers but a mental image they can have in
their heads. The point about personas is to be user-centered or user-centric in your design
and that I very much agree.
The work I am trying to do is basically exactly that: to say how different social contexts and
different usage contexts effect the way game design patterns affects us; or what kinds of
design patters actually work or dont work, or might have a worse effect. Thus, in that sense I
would say yes. But I would say it is not necessarily profiling, it is more just the fact of:

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
You have also recently made the argument that gamification, as applied and evangelized
nowadays, is not addressing all types or player, or users. So, do you believe there should be a
player/user type profiling approach to gamification?

1
6
4

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

Doing formative user research, if the outcome could be a persona or something else; I
don't really care about the concrete form or shape of the outcome. But doing formative
user research to understand what context what tasks, what people you design for.
And of course do A LOT of prototyping; prototype to figure out whether your game
mechanics work with your audience, whether they produce unintended consequences.

So the answer is basically get away from the same kind of mindset we observed with social
media which is basically feature-centric: Is this is all about the features right? Just add a tag
cloud to your website and the uptake and spread is going to go through the roof, which is
completely wrong.
It is basically being user centric in your design which includes user research and iterative
prototyping and usability testing; so the whole hard design work still applies to gamification as
well as to any other application as well as to well designed games. And you know very well that
these are play-tested to the death as well.
CI:
So thus would you stand for a more holistic approach on the users/players of
gamification as playful beings, instead of a player/user types approach?
SD:
To a certain extent, I would say that is too early to say, because we have seen too little
actual work and too little uptake of actual work to say whether a framework with three types,
four types, or how many other types of users is actually able to cover 80% of the use cases or
the design cases or not. I think trying to be more specific and trying to figure out other different
types or not, is just work that remains to be done. In that case I wouldnt want to venture other
than: there is certainly difference and its not one size fits all but how many sizes there have to
be, or if you cannot shoehorn it into a model of four sizes or five sizes very much remains to be
seen.

I think the truth is getting mixed up all time currently. In my second presentation at Playful
2010, basically what I tried to call out was: look everything that people are currently doing in
gamification, what they call game patterns or game mechanics are not really game
mechanics they are patterns of feedback design that are taken from games right? A badge is
the form of feedback or status display, a pattern of user interface design that we know from
games. This is not a game mechanic whereas game mechanics are basically the molecules of
a game rule-set; of a full rule-set that constitutes a game rule-wise that we can recognize and
that we can implement over and over again. Something like time pressure, or resource
management, or something like a time-based resource refilling and so on and so on. All of
these in my definition, in that way I'm talking about, are real game mechanics and I find that the
current discourse about gamification hasnt even began to look into these kinds of game
mechanics, neither do they differentiate between them and between other repeatable design
patterns that you can take from games which obviously go beyond game mechanics per se.
CI:
So is there also an effort to extract as much as we can from games, trying to figure out
everything that we can take and apply or do you see more that the silver lining formula has been
found, namely points, leader boards, badges etc.?

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
Alright, let me ask you something else then. You are using the term game patterns; some
others use the term game mechanics. How do you feel about the use of these terms?

1
6
5

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

SD:
At the current point, what I see, what is offered by the industry is pretty much badges
and leader boards and points. So I would hope that the design work that I see, that the options
that have been offered by people, that the things that have been looked in by researchers will
quickly move beyond that. But as things go, this seems to be the solutions that are most easily
implemented in the existing websites. Because it is basically just another form of
recommendation systems and we have been using and applying recommendation systems for
a long, long time on all kinds of websites. This is where I see why the discourse is very much
focused on that.
Personally I see at least three different ways to step beyond that. So you have these very
narrow patterns of feedback design that people apply and I would say they are even more
design patterns to come from games, including game mechanics. What is not looked into
currently is to what extent the actual game design process which focuses on creating an
enjoyable user experience and essentially differs from other interaction design processes. So
what can we learn from the design process. And the third thing is what Bill Scott talks about
lenses, design lenses; taking a certain perspective on an object. So is there something such
as a ludic lens in design with certain principles and goals you design for, certain approaches to
an application when you design it.
Thus, currently they are just focusing on feedback patterns not on the full-scale of design
patterns including game mechanics and I would say hopefully the discourse widens to
something as al ludic lens, widens to game design as a process and widens to patterns
including game mechanics but at this point it's very much down to feedback patterns.
CI:

So, keeping that mind, who should be practicing gamification?

Game designers who are open to interaction design and there are not that many of them.
Ideally I would say, a concert, a partnership of game designers and user experience designers
together. I don't see that any single person, at this moment in time, has all the necessary skills
and knowledge to do this. Thus, I would say you should get a team together of a user
experience designer who understands his trade, who understands especially user research,
that understands the necessities and design goals of productivity applications and a game
designer who actually understands how game mechanics work.

SD:
Once again you have to split the crowd. You have to split the crowd into those that
come from game design, Jane McGonigal and co. who have this game design lens approach
and the others which are, at this point, mostly coming out of the web startups scene and have
little to none exposure to game design as a practice. Maybe they played videogames in their
past but they dont grasp the game design as design. Also those who see this as a new form of
marketing and typical metrics driven startup design at this point. So they will get stats about
how user perform, how you convert them and use this stuff to convert more users but they're
not looking at it from a game design perspective and what they are seeing is just this is a
gorgeous new possibility to do supercharge loyalty programs you don't even have to use real
incentives, we can just use virtual incentives, that's enough. Finally then of course you have
Jesse Schell, who I think frames the whole situation as a new kind of adver-games than

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

CI:
So then, how do you explain this mosaic of non game-related entrepreneurs that now
make up the gamification industry?

1
6
6

Gamification: The Application of Game Design in Everyday Life

May 2, 2011

marketing or the Jane McGonigal take which would say well this is about expanding a playful
approach across all sphere of life.
CI:
You have also recently argued that these existing gamification approaches applied on
the web can lead into disrupting implicit social norms, with the example of Akoha. So my
question would then be, couldnt that be done in way so that we can reach some kind of
collective, or personal reflection upon these norms?
SD:
Its an interesting thing if you want that intentionally as a designer, or it happens
unintentionally. In principle, sure, I can very much imagine that a good alternate reality games
designer would combat it from exactly this approach and say lets see if we add some game
mechanics here to have people discovered this. But then again I would say that he as a
designer would still be asked to come up with, or to design basically the context around it, so
that people will not simply be annoyed by this, but will realize or will be will be afforded an
opportunity to take the annoyment and discuss it with other people and discover whatever they
should discover. So it is one thing as an experimental artist to piss off people, it is a different
thing to frame pissing off people in way that they realize that you pissed them off intentionally
and that it is actually helping them understand the society they are living in.
CI:
I see that you position yourself into a more, McGonigal/playful approach in this
gamification process than a game approach. In this context I would ask if you would be standing
for a playfication instead of a gamification?

I also believe as a design take, it can also be very effective. The difficultly with playfication is
that play ultimately is an individual stance to the situation; it is like experience design; you cant
design experiences because that is a subjective phenomenon. You can design for certain
experiences. In the same sense you cant design playfulness, you can design for playfulness in
a certain situation. You can hope that the individual frames the situation that way. So I would
say yes, playfication is also interesting, but personally I'm actually at this moment more
interested in applying game rules and game mechanics in other contexts. What I am just trying
to argue is listen, a huge part of the fun of games comes from this playful framing of the
situation, it comes from this kind of situation or this state of mind or attitude rather than just the
rule-system.

Chapter: 8. Appendix I>

SD:
Not necessarily, because I'm very much also interested in how applying actual
mechanics, which I would see as part of rules systems and how they change social situations. I
find it also very interesting and I believe potentially very effective. Interesting if only because it
gives us a view into how the proceduralization of the society in general, or the way that more
and more of our social interactions are governed or structured by software, works and what
effect it has. So I think this kind of gamification in this sense is just a tip of the iceberg of a
much more pervasive process of software proceduralizing social interaction in general.

1
6
7