The Gamification of Games

Published in Game Over: For a critique of video game rationality, 2021

Recommended citation: Your Name, You. (2015). "The Gamification of Games." In Game Over: For a critique of video game rationality. Matteo Bittanti ed. Mimesis Edizioni. Milan, Italy.

Despite its name, gamification has never really been about making experiences more game-like. If there were a common characteristic that defined all games, it would certainly not be the use of badges, achievements, and points as incentives for engagement. Games, if anything, share an embodiment of the spirit of play — a temporary suspension of the rules of life to make space for intensities of experience: levity, rivalry, concentration, joy. If historian Johan Huizinga — whose 1938 book Homo Ludens is one of the pivotal works of game studies — had the opportunity to define gamification according to his theory of play, he might have reserved the term for a “temporary abolition of the ordinary world” where “inside the circle of the game the laws and customs of ordinary life no longer count.”