I’ve had a few attempts attrying to describe a view on gamification in my blog, but never really felt like I’ve got it across very well. Many academics talk of persuasive games and draw on the themes of rhetoric, but I’m not sure that is the same thing. Plus I’m not sure how I feel about the term, especially since the people deploying them have taken the term as a badge of honour. After a long discussion with my professor I was simply told to look up the word ‘glamour’ in a dictionary, “scratch that” he then said and proceed to recommend the Jamieson’s Dictionary of the Scottish Language and that I look up ‘glamer’, the word he claimed it derives from. I did:
To be honest I’d never really thought what the word ‘glamour’ really meant. I just thought it meant something was really cool you know – something stylish or beautiful, like glamour magazine, and not my view on these games at all.
But apparently the word comes from Scots meaning ‘something different, the supposed influence of a charm on the eye causing it to see objects differently’. To cast a glamer is to cause deception of sight. I thought back to reading my favourite comic, Fables, which is exactly what a Glamour does in that, it makes a Fable look like a Human so their true identity is never given away. In fact, aren’t the monsters in shows like Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer hidden away by the use of Glamour. Glamorous was indeed the word I was looking for!
There are many games that want to know things about you, who your friends are, what your favourite things are, where you live. Perhaps they want you to do certain things, maybe leave a certain type of feedback on a site? They are using gaming mechanisms to make you do it, because you are in a game! They often use time as a currency in these games, tell them who your friends are for to speed up the game or maybe vote on this feedback system for an extra life.
It is quite easy to show examples of Facebook games doing this kind of thing, because gaming mechanisms in games makes sense, right? But we are still being manipulated in to behaving a certain way or giving up information about ourselves. Whatever your organisation is in the business of doing, I bet it wants its audience to engage more and increasingly glamourous games will be a way we try they try to achive it. I don’t always think that encouragement is a bad thing; I guess I’m just worried about just how strong the glamour is. Is a fully glamourous game the fabled endpoint of ‘completely ubiquitous gaming and tracking of performance’?