Daily links: August 10
“The rhetorical power of the word "gamification" is enormous, and it does precisely what the bullshitters want: it takes games [and] makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.”
Ian Bogost definitely receives a massive damage buff when enraged. Here, he blasts the marketing-men’s cheap hijack of gaming with typically Bogostian eloquence. Get a load of this: “For those whose goal is to clock out at 5pm having matched the strategy and performance of your competitors, I understand that mediocrity's lips are seductive because they are willing.” That’s a critical hit.
Responding to Bogost, Tiltfactor’s Katie unpicks a pervasive flaw of gamification, which tends to treat players as mice to be bribed with cheese – as per the outmoded theory of motivation proposed by BF Skinner.
“The user must be tricked into participating in the desired activity,” she says. “Employing [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy] approaches, however, makes the assumption that the user wants to participate in the activity. Is this not reasonable?”
Sounds like it to us. Have a piece of cheddar.
“Designers have to be brave to risk upsetting a game-playing public that is not accustomed to having their favorite characters taken away from them; but if it's done elegantly and meaningfully, the emotional rewards are well worth the pain.“
So concludes Jane Pinckard of the Digital Romance Lab – but its her case studies that are the real meat here, describing how games, by virtue of interaction, can create more dramatically relevant characters than those flimsy cut-outs of the Captain America film. She could possibly have picked a higher bar there, but the reasoning’s sound.
And finally, the supersmart Miguel Cepero of Procworld – a one-man procedural world project that’s rapidly spooling out into a Dwarf Fortress-like mega-sim – has been very busy since we last talked to him, largely focusing on developing the architectural grammar by which he can automatically generate entire cathedrals (and soon, entire cities). Here he is showing off some stairways.
It’s also worth swinging by his blog for another perspective on the Unlimited Detail engine, and highlighting of a number of comparable projects which present themselves with a little more humility.