Week 9: Emily Priebe

I have never been a gamer, but I’m fascinated with the concept of gamifying content. I was excited to see Games for Change on this week’s list of projects. Gaming was built into my generation growing up and it seems only natural that developers and civically minded groups are trying to capitalize on this innate societal gaming infrastructure. Gaming requires total engagement in order to participate; engagement that relies on action not passivity.

We recently had a session in Foundations of Strategic Communication that focused on gamifying and how brands and internal company departments can use gamifying to their advantage. One of the major questions that came out of that discussion was what happens when someone doesn’t want to participate. And by focusing on gamifying are we as marketers limiting our audience to those for whom gaming has always been a part of their lives? Will gaming projects have as much impact for older generations?

Parks and Recreation recently did a spoof on the Portland fluoride debate and gamification, where they developed an app that tracks how much water with fluoride (or H2Flow as they called it) residents of the town are drinking. The app allows them to level-up at certain points of water consumption. The app was created as a bid to sway people to vote to pass a fluoride measure by making water consumption fun. While clearly a satire, the episode did shed light on issues that may arise as a result of disguising a public health issue as a game. Can gamification be misleading?

 

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2 comments to Week 9: Emily Priebe

  • amandae@uoregon.edu

    Emily: I think your statement that “gaming requires total engagement in order to participate; engagement that relies on action not passivity,” is an interesting twist to my interpretation of “participatory,” especially with regard to games for marketing’s sake. I’ve been thinking about the nature of participatory as I reflect on its increasingly nuanced definition over the course of this class. I’ve come to understand it’s not just “taking part in,” but rather denotes a certain amount of agency. I feel like the participatory nature of a marketing game is simply a high-adrenaline form of top-down media, that thrives off of addiction to an extreme form of passivity –that of checking out from the real world, and immersing in an online game–rather than a form of participation that provides agency to the gamer. What do you think? Is there agency involved in this sort of participation? Does it matter?

  • dereky@uoregon.edu

    Emily,
    I think games for social change can be misinterpreted. Some people may see games with social causes as a trendy scheme to solicit donations. I know I expected the pitch at some point while I was playing Half the Sky on Facebook. I think if game designers do a good job, these games can be useful. Let’s just hope that major companies don’t start using games to solicit sales of their products.

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