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Game play and work

Thanks to UMJeremy for the link to this article which critiques the game-ification of work and the rest of our lives.  As I read and we, hopefully, discuss Jane McGonigal's book and its implications, let's also read this essay and keep what it has to say in mind.  Some excerpts:

And yet, there's something a little bit disturbing about thinking of games as "work"… or of work as "games". I was excited to find out that the divide between the things I do for fun and the things I do because they're work isn't so big, but if that divide were really gone, what would it feel like? Would I lose my ability to distinguish between "work" and "play?" Would that drive me nuts?


Could it be a bad thing to reduce big goals for my personal, non-digital life to the equivalent of game quests? On one hand, I'm definitely going to benefit in a substantial way from keeping at running – better health, physical fitness, and the beneficial near-meditative state that runners assume when they're pounding the pavement. Fundamentally I'm proud of myself because I'm completing runs, not because I'm posting new stats to the RunKeeper site.

But "gamification" is a concept that's here to stay; the positive view is that applying proven game design concepts to some of our least-favorite or most tedious life tasks can make us more productive and help us have fun doing it. The negative view is that we've become so dependent on designed interaction, compulsion loops and receiving positive feedback for everything that we can't just exist spontaneously, that we need to be "tricked" into achieving.


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Glad you enjoyed the article. I think to your point, failure to distinguish between work and play is a critical point of ethical discernment when leading groups in and out of the church. Do I hide the work required by making something fun? Or do I acknowledge the work beforehand so when the "game" is over the people feel like they have accomplished something not just perpetuated a game? Ugh.

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