A decade ago, society would have collectively referred to the “Game of Life” as a board game played amongst family and friends. Today the gamification of life expands our perspectives regarding the differences and collaboration of reality and gaming. Personally, I feel as though this current gamification has both negative and positive repercussions for society. My excitement about the potential positives of gamification is equivalent to my fear of the negatives.
In “Playing the Real Life: The Ludification of Social Ties in Social Media”, Philip Man mentions, “He sees the situation as one in which even leisure and play have become hard work, and work has been turned into play only to get its slaves to do more of it (Man, pg. 7)”. It is quotes like this that scare me not only because the concept is frightening, but also because I feel as though this is already becoming part of the human experience. Where there was once a defined line between work and play there is now a blur. Both worlds are crossing into one another, but not necessarily for the better.
It is getting increasingly difficult to decipher between work and play and it is obvious when we look at games like Facebook’s “FarmVille”. Before I even get into my argument about FarmVille I must acknowledge the fact that this game has become such a universal part of life that my spell check corrected my spelling of the game. Nevertheless FarmVille is a pivotal application that questions the disintegrating definition of that line. As stated in Jason Tanz’s article “The Curse of the Cow Clicker”, “FarmVille…kept players coming back by setting onerous time limits—return in 16 hours to harvest your rhubarb or your fields would be riddled with withered stalks. And it compelled them to pay money if they wanted to avoid mindless tasks or lengthy delays” (Tanz, 2012). So here we are presented with a “game” in which you are forced to return to at certain points to avoid penalties, thus surrendering control of your time to the game. To me, this sounds a lot like work. In the end you’re completing rudimentary tasks, against your own schedule, without an endgame. Tanz even says, “Games like FarmVille are cow clickers. You click on a cow, and that’s all you do (Tanz, 2012).
I do not know the opinions of the rest of the world, but the following is a personal truth: If you added 50% of play into my work, it will still be work for me, but if you add 1% of work into my play I’d no longer playing. So the more these lines blur, I lose play and gain work. That is because work in any amount is intrusive to play, whereas play is overshadowed by work.