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GamesAgency As Art$
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C. Thi Nguyen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190052089

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190052089.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 October 2021

Gamification and Value Capture

Gamification and Value Capture

(p.189) 9 Gamification and Value Capture

C. Thi Nguyen

Oxford University Press

Games work in the medium of agency; this chapter explores the special dangers of that medium. Understanding the value of games will show us why the gamification of ordinary life is problematic. Games can offer us seductive experiences of value clarity. In games, values are clear, and our achievements are usually quantifiable and rankable. We know exactly what we are doing, and why. This is unproblematic, as long as it is confined to the gaming context. But it is quite dangerous to export the expectation for value clarity outside the game. Our larger values are subtle and complex. If we are seduced by a fantasy of value clarity, we will be drawn to oversimplify our values. When we oversimplify our values in ordinary life to induce game-like experiences, we may amplify our motivation, but we will also change the target. And when we expect game-like value clarity in ordinary life, we may be too drawn to institutions and systems that present oversimplified versions of values. This chapter introduces the notion of “value capture.” Value capture occurs when our natural values are subtle, but institutions present us with simplified versions of those values, and then we internalize them. Value capture threatens to undermine our autonomy. But if we don’t manage our experience of games properly, they can make us more vulnerable to value capture. And the attempts to actively gamify ordinary life increase the threat of value capture.

Keywords:   games, gamification, quantification, social media, value theory, heuristics, weakness of the will, commensurability, value clarity, value capture

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