Just when I started to be more convinced about the effectiveness and potentials of gamification, I read the text of John Ferrara Games for Persuasion: Argumentation, Procedurality, and the Lie of Gamification, where he express his opinion against gamification, describing it as a deprivation of games. Although, in the beginning I was a bit adverse to his theory, as simply was going against what I had been reading in the past days, I found it extremely coherent and logical. His theories are backed by Ian Bogost, who I knew from the beginning was averse to gamification (without understand why yet) as it’s said on Wikipedia (starting point of every research).

“Gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the gray, hopeless wasteland of big business. ”

Ian Bogost



Here I reported parts of the text which I found particularly interesting.
Around 2009, something really bad happened: Gamification.
[…] It has been applied so broadly as to include everything fromFarmville to LinkedIn’s profile completeness bar.
[…] Its most common use, however, it usually serves to institutionalize a big lie: that games can be strip-mined for their ‘‘useful’’ elements, disregarding the rest of what
makes a game a game.
Those useful elements are typically some form of extrinsic reward—points, leaderboards, badges, and such. […]
I argue that this approach of tacking game-like extrinsic reward elements onto non-game experiences exposes a disdain for games, because it refuses to entertain the idea that ‘‘Games themselves are valuable experiences.’’
Gamification implies an impoverished, cynical, and exploitative view of games as inherently frivolous and mostly useless.
Gamification fails to recognize that games are much more than rewards. […]
But they are just a small part of the player experience, sitting on a plane of Motivation. […]
‘‘Gamified’’ experiences that rely solely upon extrinsic reward systems rarely succeed because they do not incorporate the other key planes of player experience. As a consequence, people will not value gamified experiences the way they value games. […]
I propose starting with a simple maxim: Games Must Be Designed as Player Experiences First. […]
These include the ability of games to simulate conditions of the realworld; the ability of games to accelerate learning; the ability of games to foster communal experiences between people; and the ability of games to persuade, which I believe is one of the great underutilized facilities of games.
[…] The modern theory of persuasive games was laid out by Ian Bogost (2007) in his book, Persuasive Games. In it, Bogost argues that games are a form of procedural rhetoric, meaning that they are able to contain and communicate persuasive messages. I think that this is my favorite idea ever, because it is one of those things that is just completely dead-on.
Bogost further argues that it is the procedurality of video games, by which he means their ability to execute rules, that makes them unique as a communications medium. In conventional media like TV, newspapers, books, and billboards, meaning is communicated overtly. But in a procedural medium meaning is communicated through participation in the experience. Gamification rarely, if ever, shows regard for this powerful property of gaming.


What Ferrara asserts in brief is that games should be a form of design rather than raiding them for game elements and exporting those to nongame application. That we should start by building true games, and avail ourselves of the prodigious strengths native to the medium. These include the ability of games to simulate conditions of the real world; to accelerate learning; to foster communal experiences between people; and to persuade.

“While many scholars and game designers put together their efforts to rethink gamification, to improve it and implement it, many others have met gamification “predominantly with skepticism if not hostility (e.g., Robertson 2010 ; Bogost 2011a ). Many view it as yet another wave of “ colonizing attempts ” ( Aarseth 2001 ), only this time from marketers and startups with often-doubtful ethics and little care for “ games as such. ” Gamification is painted almost as a desecration of a presumed nature of games and play.”

Sebastian Deterding, Eudaimonic Design, or: Six invitations to rethink gamification.

Also Jane McGonigal, one of the first and more passionate gamification theorists, arrived to the conclusion that it’s better to entirely frame the activity as a game than take only a few elements of it as it happens in gamified projects.

““I don’t do ‘gamification,’ and I’m not prepared to stand up and say I think it works, I don’t think anybody should make games to try to motivate somebody to do something they don’t want to do. If the game is not about a goal you’re intrinsically motivated by, it won’t work.”

Jane McGonical