Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 11600817
Project Title(English) : All Play and No Work? The Ideas and Realities of Gamification 
Project Title(Chinese) : 只玩耍不用功?遊戲化的理念與現實 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Leino, Olli Tapio  
Principal Investigator(Chinese) :  
Department : School of Creative Media
Institution : City University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Dr Aarseth, Espen
Dr Moering, Sebastian Martin
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Humanities and Arts
Exercise Year : 2017 / 18
Fund Approved : 283,000
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-12-2019
Abstract as per original application
Traditionally play and games have been understood as frivolous, creative, free, separate from everyday life, and standing in contrast to productive activities like work and education. Many are familiar with the thrilling excitement of taking risks on a whim, knowing that it’s “only a game”. Recently, a movement often referred to as ’gamification’, or, ’ludification’, i.e. the use of game elements in non-game contexts, has emerged, promising that the ‘magic’ of game-playing could be added into productive activities to make them more enjoyable, efficient, and productive. Conference talks on gamification have garnered millions of views on Youtube, and, sparked an ever-growing body of professional literature, instructing how to radically transform productive activities. While design practitioners and engineers have embraced gamification and published a number of interdisciplinary anthologies, there are no humanities-based scholarly monographs theorizing gamification and its implications. Vocabulary for a critical study of gamification is lacking, and many questions distinguishing between ideas and realities of gamification have not received the attention they warrant. Is it without problems to harness play, with all the frivolity it entails, to serve the concerns of production and efficiency? Would it not undermine the very nature of play as an ’oasis of happiness’? Is blending of play and non-play theoretically possible? If not, what actually happens when an activity is ’gamified’? Does gamification make actual use of established ‘game mechanics’? Does gamification have something to teach us about technological play and games? Theorizing gamification seems to involve addressing the liminality between play and non-play, and so touches upon questions regarding the role of play in human endeavors. We propose project resulting in a theoretically and empirically grounded critical review of gamification and in a methodological approach that can be repeated by others. Our expertise and track record in computer game studies, existential philosophy, and play theory seems very well suited for answering the above questions. Work is structured into four phases, where subsequent phases validate the preceding ones: theoretical model-building based on synthesis of existing insights, cataloguing examples of gamification into a typology, case studies of relevant examples, and reflection. Considering gamification as ‘test case’, we will also shed light on other contemporary forms of technological play such as “free-to-play games”, and, on established work/play hybrids, such as “serious” and “educational games”, gambling, and professional (e-)sports. Our findings will also help practitioners and policymakers to explore what can be realistically expected from gamification’s transformative capabilities.
傳統上,嬉戲行為與遊戲本身常被認為是自由的、有別日常生活,而且與工作和教育等生產活動形成鮮明對比。許多人都熟悉這種跟從一個怪念頭冒險而又驚又喜的感覺,明白到它最終「只是一場遊戲」。近年,一場常被稱為「遊戲化」(gamification 或 ludification)的風潮開始冒起:把遊戲元素用於非遊戲場合,期待遊戲「魔力」的注入,可以令生產活動的過程更加愉快,而且更有效率與成果。然而於人文學術範疇,關於遊戲化的理論研究與應用至今鮮見。用於遊戲化批判性研究的詞彙有限,而且很多區分遊戲化理念與現實的問題亦欠缺應得關注。利用遊戲所蘊含的隨意性,去達至生產與效率的目標,這真的沒有問題嗎?本項目將提供一個遊戲化的理論與實證研究基礎理論的批判性探討。
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