I’m going to make two statements (interleaved with ideas) that converge later.
What Is Better Game Culture?
One is that, as we argue for better game culture, I think we’re basically arguing for more critical and reflective consumers, creators, and scholars of games and gaming practice. “More” in the sense that we just need proportionally more people who do think critically and reflectively about games and gaming. But also “more” in the sense that who we do have are continually learning and making connections and generally becoming better at what they do.
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.
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.