Response to: Is Gamification Sexist? – and how SL is a game, but a social one.

This will be in my rambling style that might not make sense to many of you. Just lett’n ya’ll know that ahead of time. 🙂

Typing this one out to think it through more so than to argue it out.

And in reading it now, I realize I spent most of it talking about framing, meant to set up what ‘gamification’ is all about – while barely getting to how that relates to the question of sexism. Will have to rewrite / edit this at some point.

See Is Gamification Sexist? to see what this began as a response to.

I often talk about framing – how the choice of language defines a debate to such a degree that it becomes impossible to ‘think outside the box’.

Language is very key to social change and revolutionary movements are often about such re-framing in order to speak ‘truth to power’. So as a Rastafarian (yes I’m claiming that word now) this is something I have a keen awareness of. The language of our movement is carefully constructed for how it peels back the layers of obfuscation used by the oppressor class to reveal the true nature of Babylon.

‘Game’ has been heavily framed in recent decades (ok yeah; how did we get from Rasta to game. Just go with it ok? 😉 ). When I grew up in the 1970s a game was any form of play. Barbies to Tea Party (no relation to any Palins, I mean sipping tea and pretending to be crazy rabbits- wait, maybe that does relate to a Palin…) to Hide and Seek to the racist Cowboys and Indians (there’s another blog for you – we all know who was the bad guy in that one, and even this RL-Amer-Indian kid didn’t want to be cast as the Indian too often, at least until I was a teen) to Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, and Clue. Some of these have goals and rewards, and some clearly do not. But I’ve always seen them all as games.

In the same decade we saw the rise of what has become the modern game platform. Dungeons and Dragons pioneered adding strict rule-sets into ‘play acting’. Where you would take on a persona, and have clear guidelines set out for objective-resolution. If I do X, there is a rule to get the entire group to a conclusion Y.

D&D re-framed what it meant to be a game. Before D&D, you could call ‘playing dolls’ a game, and nobody would object. Now they say that’s not a game, but ‘girl stuff’. I guess only the boys played games… I dunno… this is how reframing works…

It removed all of the ‘feminine’ forms of gaming out of the definition. We often no longer even remember these things as games.

D&D itself faded from the public light, but when the information age took over, and computer games kicked off, early developers looked to their D&D gaming tables and tried to recreate it digitally. Those early computer games have in turned shaped almost every computer game experience we’ve seen.

Second Life stands in stark contrast to this.

Where an MMO comes out of applying graphics to the MUD tradition, Second Life comes out of the MUSH tradition.

MUDs came about as the early efforts to get those D&D games into a multi-user format. If you ever happen upon one, it looks very much like a fantasy MMO, in text only.

MUSH came about in various attempts at connecting groups of people together in real time online. Very tied to MUD, but more social and builder. Look at a MUSH and it will feel very similar to Second Life, but again only in text. Many MUSHes even had most or all of their content made by the users, and not the ‘system operators’.

I could say, ‘what about that is not a game?’ – but everyone will be able to answer that, because we’ve reframed the concept of game to mean ‘something like D&D’… even when its a sport like baseball.

But the truth to speak to the power here is that the reframing is wrong.

The word realy has many meanings and applies properly in many contexts. ‘Social Games’ for example, are a very different creature than the ‘ruleset model’. And what is SL but a social game?

But ‘game’ is now way to claim space for certain things, but at the same time devaluing them in other contexts.

People who say SL is not a game say such because they are devaluing the term game and don’t want to see SL as trivial. World of Warcraft players have a great response to this: “Sl is srs bsns” – which is really a way of calling out ‘the other side’ and saying ‘you folks are taking yourselves and your stuff way too seriously, mellow out.’

There is a notion in the term ‘gamify’ things that seems to mean applying more concrete rule-sets to them, with defined rewards for valorious conduct. “Play to win,” beat the odds, achiev reward. Its the ‘lone man in the wilderness conquering adversity’ model. In other words, applying the reframed notion of game to things.

Linden Realms is a case of making tools for SL so that SL can be better “gamified” in this sense. SL done gone and got too girly…

The Is Gamification Sexist? blog notes that “studies have shown that the degree to which you are sensitive to reward is based heav­ily on how much testosterone you have in your system.”

(and we should note here that the author of that quote has fallen victim to a framing of ‘reward’ that does not consider getting friends a reward, whereas getting trophies and rank is – this is why framing works so well, you cannot communicate outside of some kind of frame, but your choice of frame defines what conclusion you will reach and prevents exceptions.)

If this is true, then ‘gamification’ of SL would be a detriment to SLs majority userbase… at the benefit of whom? those who feel SL is failing because it does not attract those within their ‘framing.’

The dilemma here might be that not doing so has the reverse consequence of mostly benefiting women.

I suspect that embracing any one single method is going to disenfranchise one gender or the other – and the struggle will be to find a dualistic approach.

Speaking of the rewards of social based games – this may be why SL has traditionally attracted such high numbers of women (or so the unscientific anecdote goes). SL’s reward is mostly social. You get things to improve your ability to interact with others, go and meet those others, and are ‘rewarded’ by growing your circle of social contacts.

In this sense it is very much a game, but a social one. That other framing of game:

  • Activity engaged in for diversion or amusement : play

Teh iz spam’n I and I
Ps: I wish some of you could read the spam comments I get to the blog. They are just too funny with the random text gibberish that tries so so very hard to make sense… Every few days I get tempted to make a blog post that is just a cut and paste job of some of that spam… but I suspect that if I did so, google and bing would smack my ranking downside the head so hard it’d land back in 2000 BC somewhere… 🙂

But, TY spammers for the lols. 🙂 As long as you stay filtered in my spam folder I’m fine with you. As for everyone else, ya’ll ought to get your own blogs so you too can have a spam filter too and read some of this stuff.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. SarahAndrea Royce
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 21:32:21

    I don’t see it that way. First of all, boys play games without rules and more pretending, too. The other thing is, by your definition having friends over or chatting with your neighbour (in RL) is a game, too.

    SL is medium where you can play, but its just not a game in itself.

    Reply

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