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Feature: Gamification? No, Exploitationware

Feature: Gamification? No, Exploitationware

May 3, 2011 | By Staff

May 3, 2011 | By Staff
More: Social/Online, Design, Business/Marketing

In Gamasutra's latest feature, noted academic and developer Ian Bogost delivers a scathing critique of "gamification", suggesting a new way of looking at the trend -- as an exploitation of users.

Bogost says he felt forced to confront the topic when someone far outside the game or tech industries -- a fellow academic -- brought it up in a different context. "I had been trying to ignore gamification, hoping it would go away," he writes.

In the piece, part of Bogost's long-running Persuasive Games column, he concedes that the term "gamification" is appealing:

"It keeps the term 'game' and puts it right up in front, drawing attention to the form's mysterious power. But the kicker comes at the end: the '-ify' suffix it makes applying that medium to any given purpose seem facile and automatic."

However, argues Bogost, while many detractors of gamification point to the fact that the process merely assigns badges and points to activities -- in essence, losing the good part of games and keeping only their tracking mechanism -- we must be mindful that gamification proponents "don't want to use the hard, strange, magical features of games. Instead, they want to use their easy, certain, boring aspects."

In essence, he said, they don't care that the good part is discarded; stop preaching to the choir.

He wants to reshape the playing field altogether by dropping the term "gamification," which he calls a "misnomer." "'Gamification' is winning the rhetoric battle," he warns. Instead, he writes, "a better name for this practice is exploitationware."

To uncover his complete argument for the adoption of this term and other points raised against gamification, be sure to read Bogost's entire feature, live now on Gamasutra.

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