Beware The Angry White Tea Party Of Video Games

I have no idea who the Sarah Palin is of video games nor the Barack Obama of video games. But Gabe Zicherman, chairman of the Gamification Summit knows who the gaming Tea Party is: people who don't like gamification.

"These tea partiers are game designers," Zicherman wrote earlier this week on the Huffington Post. "Their target isn't a black President and changing society, but a growing trend in design and marketing called gamification."

Gamification, as it's defined by its proponents, is the addition of game-like systems on top of everyday activities. Sounds dry, unless you listened to this big Gamepocalypse speech earlier this year or until you find yourself checking into Foursquare to win achievements for the feat of just being somewhere. Do you dream of the future in which people are encouraged to eat healthier food thanks to the same systems of encouragement and reward that compel a gamer to reach level 85 of World of Warcraft?

Who is against this? Those who are afraid, Zicherman writes.

"I don't see genuine arguments against the [gamification]movement or its power to change the world. All I hear are the angry ramblings of some scared old, white people who suddenly woke up and found out they no longer run the country."

This tea party roster includes those who got "gamification" removed from Wikipedia. They include writer and game-maker Margaret Robertson, whose essay against gamification we recently republished (Choice quote in her piece: "What we're currently terming gamification is in fact the process of taking the thing that is least essential to games and representing it as the core of the experience.")

Also in the video game Tea Party is Chris Hecker, who we've written positively about. (Hecker's offending anti-gamification Tweet directed at Sony's PlayStation 3 rewards program ended with the "fuck gamification").

Are we here at Kotaku are enabling this gaming Tea Party? Sorry/you're-welcome.

Perhaps Zicherman is right that by 2015 "every company will have a Chief Engagement Officer, and gamification/playful experience design will ascend to a trusted and established profession the world over."

Perhaps gamification can be used not just for selling airline tickets but to help fight obesity.

Who knows, but... tea party? I had no idea the battle for and against the gamification of society was the heated central debate of our United States of Technology.

The Tech Industry's Tea Party [Huffington Post][PIC: Tea Party rally on November 2, by Rod Lamkey /Getty Images]


    Typical gamificationist propoganda if you ask me. Gamification is nothing more than the same old psychological tricks given a new name. It's the same as "buy 10 get 1 free, oh and we'll give you two free stamps to get started".

    And if people are only getting fit because they can get some stamps then I'd be very worried for that future.

    I think deliberately linking things to the Tea Party is a little hyperbolic.

    However, if a government does try to "gamify" a social control program designed to induce behavior modification amongst the population, I can see why those concerned with the size and intrusiveness of the State (which may or may not include some members of some Tea Party groups) would find reason to worry about gamification.

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