I’ll be speaking as part of a panel Surveillance and the Mediation of Big Data: II at the 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) Annual Meeting in San Diego on Friday, October 11th, 10:30AM to Noon. You can find more information available online here.
Gameification, the idea that game mechanics can be integrated into assumed “non-game” circumstances has gained ascendance amongst champions of marketing, behavior change and efficiency. Ironically, some of the most heated critique to gameification has been the broader community of “traditional” videogame developers. Connecting broadly to projects surrounding “big data” and algorithmic surveillance, the project of gameification continues to expand and intensify. This paper examines the complex relationship between game designers and the rise of arguments in support of gameification. The essay presents an analysis of the various actors and interests mobilizing arguments, deconstructing their underlying assumptions about the relationship between games and social phenomena. Turning to an analytic framework rooted in Actor-Network Theory (Latour, 1999) and work in Game Studies on the Assemblage of Play (Taylor, 2009) and emergent forms of (played) control (Taylor, 2006) the essay critiques assumptions on either side of the debate on the role of games and play. The strained connections between debates on gameification and broader interest in serious games offers an important moment to explore algorithmic surveillance.