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Gamification as Checking Out Escapism


Gamification takes advantage of the human psychological predisposition to engage in gaming and competition. In 2011, it officially became a buzzword when Gartner added it to its ‘Hype Cycle’ list.

Unfortunately, most games center around escapism, wasting your life away.

This has led to the commodification of things like trophies, coins, awards and rankings in games that have no intrinsic value or that cannot be exchanged for anything outside the game world. It is even scarier when you look at the data on the amount of money people spend on in-game currencies and similar products in apps that have gamification hardwired into user status.

In turn, this has engendered new speculative scam-like arenas, like non-fungible tokens (NFT), which we addressed in “The ‘Bored Ape Yacht Club’ NFT Pump-and-Dump Ponzi Scheme.” This was followed by a value drop of digital tokens by almost 50 percent, renewing doubts over hype-fuelled markets.” The great NFT sell-off: has the digital collectibles craze hit its peak?

OpenSea suddenly limited the number of times users could mint NFTs for free on its platform because over 80 percent that were created with the tool “were plagiarized works, fake collections, and spam.” It reversed that decision within 24 hours, however, after outcry from NFT project developers.

Social media has already established itself as the most anti-social thing that could ever exist. In it one is able to interact with narcissistic douchebags who post selfies and cat pictures every 5 minutes, and you think that is what friendship is.

They want you to be lonely and miserable and the only friends you should have are propaganda bots with fake AI generated profile pictures feeding you garbage on your feed.

Then there is the perpetual red dot. On Instagram, the app’s default settings ensure that there’s always a little red dot there to alert of something—potential friends, tagged photos, likes, comments, liked comments. Ditto the addictive bell on Twitter.

Quartz debuted an app that allowed people to have emoji-filled conversations with a bot about the daily news. And publications like Slate publish weekly news quizzes that encourage readers to stay up to date on a constant feed of propaganda so that they can earn high scores.

Imagine a world where every activity and choice we make on a daily basis – how we brush our teeth, what cereal we eat for breakfast, how we perform at school, what books we read for leisure – would be measured by sensors and gamified.

In an article in Forbes magazine, Fredrick E. Allen has assigned “Electronic Whip” for the attempts done in Disneyland to keep worker engaged to their work. Workers had reported feelings similar to slavery behaviors and whipping sense.

Gamification can create a false set of incentives: One of the biggest problems with gamification is that it incentivizes winning over other objectives. Students may not be retaining information, but rather learning just enough to complete the challenge. Gaming, and especially the urge to win, may increasingly drive students to cheat.

Game designers like Jon Radoff and Margaret Robertson have also criticized gamification as excluding elements like storytelling and experiences.

In education, it results in pointsification, or assigning points for mastery of a concept. Creating a culture of pointsification in the classroom can lead to students needing instant gratification as a motivator for learning. Constantly assigning a points value to mastery can have unintended consequences and build habits in students that may be hard to reverse.

The Chinese government has announced that it will begin using gamification to rate its citizens in 2020, implementing a Social Credit System in which citizens will earn points representing trustworthiness. It has been reported that citizens will receive points for good behavior, such as making payments on time and educational attainments.

4 Comments on Gamification as Checking Out Escapism

  1. I would be in support of a social credit score in the US, if I thought it could be done fairly and if there was a way to opt-out without any financial consequences. That being said I doubt such a system could ever be implemented or regulated in a way that it couldn’t be abused by a single person or group of people. The result would most likely be some sort of 1984 esqe super communism or it would create thousands of fringe groups all arguing over the definition of words. Either way sounds ridiculous and would be void of anything fruitful besides more control for the controllers.

    • IF
      the jews were removed from their Fraudulent obtained positions and wealth
      And ALL HUMANITY ” educated” thru the trivium…
      Most of the world’s problems could be solved.
      ESPECIALLY… With the abolishment of wealth
      Which by divesting those same jews of…
      For crimes against humanity
      We could could finally be whom we were intended:
      Free and INDEPENDENT

  2. Gaming is essentially doing drugs. You follow a script, figure out what the algorithm is it wants you to do, do said thing, and then you get a reward. After that it’s all rinse and repeat. The game hijacks the reward center of your brain and then locks you in by varying the amount of rewards it gives you and the specific algorithms you need to do to get the rewards. But make no mistake there is little difference between gaming and playing a slot machine.

    • Absolutely disagree, there is a big difference. Please don’t compare video games to gambling, it’s ridiculous. Slot machines and gambling involve risking money, video and computer games do not (in fact many can be acquired for free). Second, watching movies or tv shows could be considered an even bigger waste of time than playing games.

      I agree with Russ on NFTs and things of that nature, but you (and Russ) have an outdated and antiquated view of gaming. First off, it is a pastime, and is no longer just the hobby of acne faced nerds that live in their mom’s basements that can’t get laid. In fact, some very successful people are gamers, most notably former UFC/One Champion Demetrius Johnson, former UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway and former UFC Light heavyweight Champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who plays Pokémon. I also met in guy in the military who worked with special forces that played computers games, and he had a wife and kid of his own not to mention a successful business. There is also the esports industry which has become huge and spawned multi-millionaires. You can become rich if you can master and compete with games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and League of Legends, ever heard of Team Liquid? They got rich off of computer/video games, and they get endorsements from companies.

      I’ve been self-employed for 18 years and play computer games at the highest difficulty. I have a friend that lives in South Korea that speaks Korean, Japanese which he taught himself and he has been a hardcore gamer since he was a kid. Video games are about PROBLEM SOLVING and the ability to recognize patterns. if you can win at computer games, especially at the highest difficulties, you can win in life. Let that sink in for a minute. Society has far more serious problems to worry about than games….

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