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  • Mark 7:27 pm on September 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gamification, , viral,   

    The gamification of virality and the pleasures it brings 

    A few creepy extracts from Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth about the office culture at BuzzFeed. The pursuit of virality has been gamified, with these ostentatiously fun undertakings matched by an underlying threat that those who can’t reach these standards won’t survive at the company in the longer term. In light of this we should be sceptical of attempts to make it fun but that shouldn’t entail a rejection that fun is possible.

    What are the pleasures found in virality? The energies involved in making something ‘a thing’ as BuzzFeed staff are reportedly prone to saying (pg 144)? What are their managers channeling in these exercises? How does it feed what Richard Seymour calls the Twittering Machine?

    From pg 38:

    Every so often, Peretti would announce an office-wide “sprint,” for which the staff would divide into two teams and race to publish as many posts as possible on a single topic—funny babies, say, or conspiracy theories. Each time a new post went up, the author banged a gong. It was one of the many madcap methods Peretti came up with to spur his staff to be maximally productive. On Fridays he would organize “game battles,” another competitive post-writing contrivance, all the wilder for the fact that it involved a steady intake of alcohol throughout the day.

    From pg 116:

    Management insisted on quantifying the popularity of its employees’ work using Nguyen’s dashboard. Every afternoon they sent out a company-wide “scorecard” and awarded virtual badges to the day’s winners. A running tally ranked the top-performing post-writers in terms of the eyeballs they won. Notching 10 posts with at least a million views each qualified you for induction into the Players’ Club, a distinction commemorated by a dinky plastic trophy and a handwritten letter of congratulations from Beastmaster Shepherd, in crayon. A few ascended to the Silver and Gold Players Clubs. Upon authoring his 100th million-view post, Matt Stopera was admitted to the Crystal Players Club. The only one on a higher rung was his younger brother, Dave, sole member of the Platinum Players Club.

    Pg 116-117:

    The quest for ever-bigger blockbusters kept BuzzFeeders glued to their computer screens. Someone would publish a post that went mega-vi and receive invitations to appear on a television talk show, but the staff joked that it was only worth doing so their parents could watch them on air. The pace of BuzzFeed’s growth meant employees faced consequences if they weren’t meeting traffic goals. One former staff writer, Arabelle Sicardi, whose essays on womanhood and self-image packed more substance than most content on the site, was reassigned when her numbers lulled. “They had me stop writing essays and only concentrate on viral,” she said. Posts like “This Piglet Dressed as a Unicorn Is Making Everyone Cry Rainbows” and “13 Emotions Everyone Experiences in Sephora” then took the place of her expositions on feminism. “That’s when I decided to leave.”

    There was a comparable system in place with Facebook’s (now ended) human verification of trending stories. From pg 291 of the same book:

    Of the roughly 200 stories editors vetted each day, the number they greenlighted was usually around 15 to 20, maybe 30 if they spent their entire shift in hyperdrive. The goal handed down from upstairs, editors said, was for them all to reach a daily rate of 50 verified stories. The number they produced each day was prominently visible to everyone who worked in the office and was frequently cause for conversation with the bosses. The editors who verified and produced the lowest number of news stories in a given month got last pick when it came time to sign up for the next month’s shift slots, meaning they got stuck with overnights on their weekends and the 4 p.m. to midnight shift during the week. Top performers were given “points” that could be spent on Facebook paraphernalia like T-shirts.

    • landzek 12:15 pm on September 20, 2019 Permalink

      I hate people. 🤣

    • landzek 12:21 pm on September 20, 2019 Permalink

      I think we need to start a new religion based in an ethics that defines who gets to exist. Like. : thou shalt not be an idiot. And then 5 priests sit in a large room their whole lives, as they are reincarnated from the precious priests. And they stay high on every sort of drug they might want or like, or none, and they decide who is sacrificed because they are idiots. 👽🙏🏾👽

    • landzek 12:24 pm on September 20, 2019 Permalink

      …the new religion would have human beings as low on the universal priority scale. 🌠

    • landzek 12:28 pm on September 20, 2019 Permalink

      It’s gonna be so cool when I die and get to be god of my own universe and hang out with the other gods and play keno all day.

  • Mark 8:38 pm on November 24, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , gamification, , ,   

    what ‘freedom’ will mean in a gamified world 

    From Addiction By Design pg 83-84

    Seeking to engender this same compelling sense of efficacy, secondary “bonus games” on video slots invite gamblers to perform actions over which they seem to have control (but do not). Anchor Gaming’s 2000 game Strike It Rich, for instance, presented players with a bonus game in which the object was to guide the trajectory of a bowling ball on a screen using a tracking device. Although the device enabled players to lift the bowling ball on the video screen, aim it, and roll it toward the virtual pins, the RNG determined where the ball would land long before its simulated roll came to an end. IGT’s race- car- themed bonus game similarly let players move a race car with a joystick, lending them a false sense of influence over the car’s movement. The point of such games is to give players “the feeling that they control the outcome of the event,” as a company product profile indicated in 2000. 36 Although one might assume that such a feeling would be disenchanting rather than enchanting, in fact it gives gamblers a sense that they are able to “animate” the gambling machine and thereby exert a sort of magical efficacy over its determinations of chance— which, at the same time, remain obscure and mysterious to them.

  • Mark 1:26 pm on April 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ehealth, gamification,   

    Games for health UK conference at Coventry University 

    This looks interesting:



  • Mark 2:20 pm on February 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gamification, intellectual politics, , , ,   

    +1 for Efficient Labour: Gamification, Capitalism and Intellectual Responsibility 

    Earlier this week, it was reported in a number of outlets that Tesco has been using armbands to monitor employees at a distribution center, enabling management to track moment to moment activity in a way which was previously impossible:

    The armbands, officially known as Motorola arm-mounted terminals, look like something between a Game Boy and Garmin GPS device. The terminals keep track of how quickly and competently employees unload and scan goods in the warehouse and gives them a grade. It also sets benchmarks for loading and unloading speed, which workers are expected to meet. The monitors can be turned off during workers’ lunch breaks, but anything else—bathroom trips, visits to a water fountain—reportedly lowers their productivity score. Tesco did not respond to requests for comment, so it’s hard to know if the arm bands have been a success.

    What struck me was the muted presence of gamification themes, both in the deployment of the technology and in the reporting of its use. The technology allows management to ‘grade’ workers and compile real time moment-to-moment data (facilitating Taylorism 2.0?) in a manner which produces ‘scores’:

    The former employee said the device provided an order to collect from the warehouse and a set amount of time to complete it. If workers met that target, they were awarded a 100 per cent score, but that would rise to 200 per cent if they worked twice as quickly. The score would fall if they did not meet the target.

    Micro-measurement of employee behaviour is obviously not new, however the use of mobile technology (that looks like a Game Boy) to produce ongoing scores for each individual is more novel. It produces the sustained, coherent and linear feedback which is integral to game dynamics. It doesn’t stretch one’s imagination to conceive of Tesco giving out FourSquare-esque badges for sustained levels of achievement by individuals in the depot or publishing league tables in order to ‘motivate’ workers in the depot to achieve ‘better scores’. When/if it takes such a form, gamification looks and sounds little like the radical technology described by its advocates, which draws together a trendily eclectic selection of behavioural knowledges into a easily saleable intellectual ‘movement’ which is increasingly in vogue within management schools.

    However is there really such a disconnect? Drawing on the work of people like Nikolas Rose, it could easily be argued that technologies of motivation and affect (the ‘psi disciplines’) are intrinsically political. Or that, at the very least, they cannot be detached from their political implications. While I would resist any poststructuralist turn which, in my view, risks collapsing intellectual inquiry into cultural politics, I’d nonetheless suggest that people who work in these areas have a responsibility to consider the implications which their work might hold. I find gamification fascinating in a number of ways. Nonetheless my engagement with it (which to be fair amounts to watching some videos, reading a single book and doing a Coursera course) has also left me with the sense of it as deeply troubling. Largely because there seems to be little or no engagement with the question of the consequences that might be held by this work when it is thrown ‘out there’ into the world, free to be deployed in a world riven with inequalities of power and status, facing a long-term crisis of economic growth and an increasing tendency towards structural (near or total) redundancy for large swathes of the labour market. Within such a context, the failure of gamification people to engage with the politics of gamification is deeply troubling.

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