Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I'm game if you are: Thinking about gamification

Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

I'm starting to explore the whole world of Gamification, for education in particular. I've started Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken. Right off the bat it is interesting that she thinks reality if broken and that games are the answer. Indeed, if reality were more like games she contends, it would be much better.

She gives the example of the kingdom of Lydia where people played games to distract themselves from the fact they were going hungry. I agree that distractions are welcome, if not at times useful, was this the best way to change the situation. It makes me think of the Latin phrase panem et circenses, bread and circuses. Sometimes games are used to distract us from what we should be doing rather than aiding us in doing it, which is McGonigal's aim.

She defines a game as having four elements - broad enough to encapsulate golf, tetris, board games and the latest virtual environments

  1. Games have a goal which gives us a sense of purpose
  2. Games have rules which may limit our actions but free us to be creative and help us develop strategic thinking
  3. A feedback system to help us know how close we are to the goal
  4. Voluntary participation and acceptance of the goal, rules and feedback
The above video explores the idea of the melting of the boundaries between games and reality, the gamifying of life. I'd suggest it is dystopic. One of the reasons would be breaking Kant's rule of treating people as means rather than as ends (watch and you'll see). While it's an interesting and engaging reality, it's also very cynical. Perhaps this is one of my concerns I'm awaiting to have allayed by McGonigal; that the whole idea of gamification is ultimately an exercise in self-gratification alone. We shall see.

No comments: