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Gamification is Bullshit
February 1, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Last month Wired published a lengthy profile of game designer and digital media professor Ian Bogost, best known for his anti-game cum Zynga critique, Cow Clicker (previously: 1, 2). Slashdot recently did an insightful Q&A with Bogost covering, amongst other things, his polemic thoughts on gamification, the rhetorical advantage of referring to it as exploitationware and what it's like to play with shit crayons.
posted by I've wasted my life (34 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really like that guy.
posted by gurple at 2:51 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like him too.

Also, eponymous?
posted by jmccw at 2:52 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a third person who likes that guy.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:55 PM on February 1, 2012


I like the term "skinnerware", in honor of B. F. Skinner.
posted by Pyry at 2:58 PM on February 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Seems like a cool guy.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:01 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would happily click on that guy if I could.
posted by drezdn at 3:02 PM on February 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, eh clicks cwos and doesn't afraid of anything.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:02 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


He just wrote a mock-epic likening of Zynga to the myth of Bellerophon, which I super enjoyed: The Bulldog and the Pegasus.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:09 PM on February 1, 2012


Gah! Link.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:09 PM on February 1, 2012


He's an ex-coworker of mine. Easily one of the 2 or 3 smartest people I've ever known -- and one of the most diligent. A lot of smarts + a lot of diligence == major player in pretty much whatever they undertake. My personal theory is that Game/Media studies is the thin end of the wedge for him to make waves in many areas.
posted by chimaera at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm reading a lot of Bogost for my thesis piece on game design. Anybody who wants their idea of what constitutes a game ought to get a copy of his Persuasive Games – it's heck of inspiring. One of the centerpieces of the book is that procedural rhetoric exists as a separate rhetorical category, next to visual/sensory rhetoric and verbal rhetoric. When we interact with a system, we develop a hands-on feel for how it works and how it affects its subjects. You gain a more comprehensive understanding of it than you would if that system was simply described to you.

The book is a bit overly academic for my tastes, but its ideas are fresh and wonderful.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:37 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


He has his students make Atari 2600 games. This guy is awesome.
posted by Gary at 3:38 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where we can talk about Dream Heights? Because, christ, what a bunch of assholes.
posted by chaff at 3:49 PM on February 1, 2012


Whoops, this image is what I meant to link to, although maybe you can see how I got confused!
posted by chaff at 3:52 PM on February 1, 2012


That shit crayons article is amazing. Never thought I'd see Wole Soyinka referenced in an article about games. Also, I've just learned a new pejorative which I will be using at the earliest opportunity.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:52 PM on February 1, 2012


All Things Considered covered Cow Clicker.
posted by hyperizer at 3:56 PM on February 1, 2012


It hasn't been the same since the cowpocalypse.
posted by I've wasted my life at 4:03 PM on February 1, 2012


Is this the thread where we can talk about Dream Heights? Because, christ, what a bunch of assholes.

Who are the assholes, Zynga or Nimblebit? Because I'm having a hard time mustering up much sympathy for one "exploitationware" company being ripped off by another.
posted by Pyry at 4:11 PM on February 1, 2012


OK, show me the game that Tiny Tower duplicated precisely, with no changes beyond a re-skin and some new names for things, and I'll grant you parity between Zynga and Nimblebit.

Or maybe your argument is that since Tiny Tower is a "social game", it is inherently evil and the people who made it should go out of business? That argument at least makes some kind of sense, even if I disagree with it.
posted by chaff at 5:10 PM on February 1, 2012


Wow, I was at the CCCC conference he mentions in the Gamasutra article, and I am now hella sorry I missed his panel. I am going to get his book now!
posted by Tesseractive at 5:10 PM on February 1, 2012


Sorry, I'm way too close to the issue and I don't mean to derail the thread, I better bow out now.
posted by chaff at 5:11 PM on February 1, 2012


Cow Clicker isn't something to be known for. Why? It isn't a fun game. It took all the elements of a Zynga game without any sort of enjoyable concept.
posted by Yakuman at 7:03 PM on February 1, 2012


It took all the elements of a Zynga game without any sort of enjoyable concept.

...and in doing so, made it perfectly clear how banal those games tend to be.
posted by blue t-shirt at 7:08 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


His articles are amazing... Where do you get this stuff.
posted by polymodus at 7:20 PM on February 1, 2012


I actually signed up for Cow Clicker. It was kind of fun to click on the cow "ironically"

The problem is his picture was really cute. He should have made it uglier. Then maybe people wouldn't have enjoyed his game.
posted by delmoi at 8:17 PM on February 1, 2012


Oh and the thing about Cow Clicker, It's an example of something that's become designed to sarcastically mock something popular, only to become popular on it's own.

Beck's song Loser fit's into the category as well.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on February 1, 2012


There's no Cow Clicker iPhone app yet?

Zynga, start your compilers!
posted by schwa at 10:41 PM on February 1, 2012


There is clearly a Cow Clicker iPhone app: http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/cow-clicker/id415187489?mt=8
posted by jaymzjulian at 11:25 PM on February 1, 2012


Zynga has reached new lows in finding a way to prevent people who do not presently use them from blocking some of its newer games, like Castleville. I have a few friends who seem to play this more than once a day, and as a result I get dozens of notifications a day, and every single time all I can do is click "Don't Allow" or (better) just click away. I've been reporting this as spam, but from what I can tell, Facebook must be aware and compliant (and complacent) about this apparent TOS violation by one of their biggest corporate partners.
posted by dhartung at 12:29 AM on February 2, 2012


I've been reporting this as spam, but from what I can tell, Facebook must be aware and compliant (and complacent) about this apparent TOS violation by one of their biggest corporate partners.

As Facebook prepares for their IPO, they revealed Zynga makes up 12% of their revenue. But go ahead and keep clicking that "spam" button. Perhaps they can make it the shape of a cow if that would be more fun for you.
posted by Gary at 12:41 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been reporting this as spam, but from what I can tell, Facebook must be aware and compliant
Simple solution: Don't log into facebook.
posted by delmoi at 4:19 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


dhartung: "Zynga has reached new lows in finding a way to prevent people who do not presently use them from blocking some of its newer games, like Castleville. I have a few friends who seem to play this more than once a day, and as a result I get dozens of notifications a day, and every single time all I can do is click "Don't Allow" or (better) just click away. I've been reporting this as spam, but from what I can tell, Facebook must be aware and compliant (and complacent) about this apparent TOS violation by one of their biggest corporate partners."

They probably are. I play some of these on an alt account (which has only people who play these games as friends, specifically to avoid spamming nonplayers) and I'm starting to think that Zynga is constantly releasing new games because a new game cannot have been blocked yet. If they started allowing to block all games from a specific company, I bet Zynga would create 100 sub-companies the next day...
posted by Karmakaze at 10:06 AM on February 2, 2012


The game can still be played by clicking on the empty fields where there once were cows. Responding to a fan's complaint that the game was "not a fun game" after the cow rapture, Bogost responded: "It wasn't very fun before."

I. Love. This. Man.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:41 PM on February 2, 2012


I totally get Bogost's critique, and I think that he is very right about a lot of things.

But... so what?

Not every meal has to be a symphony of delight, melding culinary art and nutrition science in a perfect balance of flavors, textures, and ingredients.

Sometimes, you just wanna eat a handful of Cheetos, you know?
posted by ErikaB at 3:28 PM on February 2, 2012


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