A really, really short talk:
The Mangle of Gaming to Socially Create Meaningful Experiences
I’ll fill in the details later
today tomorrow (which at the time of this edit is today). 🙂
My talk started a session on gamification during the Keywords for Video Game Studies year-end colloquium.
That turned out to be good, since I got a chance to start with a super quick definition of gamification before moving into what worries me about it. Here’s the bullet list of what I talked about (with more detail added here than what I could cover in 5 minutes):
- Gamification is basically a way of providing incentives for people to engage in some sort of designed activity.
- Most ways of gamifying something does so by giving people rewards, achievements, badges, etc. for particular events in that activity.
- This provides a quantifiable way of rating progress with that activity.
- Big question I have is: Are these rewards meaningful? How are they meaningful or not?
- My general view of a play space (or activity space) — as in a space where meaning making occurs — is that it’s a mangle.
- By using the word “mangle” I’m invoking Andrew Pickering’s Mangle of Practice and Constance Steinkuehler’s “Mangle of Play.”
- ie. the actual activity occurs in an arena with multiple contentious motives from different parties or actors.
- Their tension, work-arounds, pushes, pulls, and constant renegotiation of positions, roles, and responsibilities make the landscape of activity dynamic, sometimes unpredictable, emergent, and messy. Latour (actor-network theory) would probably call it a constant motion of destabilization and restabilization.
- Case in point: playing World of Warcraft is a matter of socialization into a particular culture or community.
- Becoming a good player means being able to navigate and participate in this contentious landscape — being able to assemble and arrange various resources, both social (ie other people) and material (ie add-ons, websites, etc.).
- Could think of New Literacy Studies and/or Lave & Wenger’s “community of practice” stuff here pretty easily.
- These game spaces (cultures) hold/build/replicate certain values, including values about legitimate ways of being.
- By participating in these communities, people are building up social capital and cultural capital.
- These forms of capital are emergent from the mangle.
- Not always quantifiable… not predictable.
- By quantifying achievements, game designers normalize (think of gear score, eg) how cultural capital (gaming capital) is accrued, possibly marginalizing other forms of play.
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