In the article by Alberto Vanolo, he defines gamification as “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.” According to him, the concept of gamification is important since it allows to navigate social behaviours in terms of making decisions. To do this, he adds that competition is required due to the fact that it can motivate the individuals to part in the act of gamification with. Looking at this perspective, what Vanolo is implying is that gamification is a form of mass politics with competition being used as a force that drives the agenda of the source/firm imposing gamification.
Berg argued that humans were “programmed” to be competitive. By this sense, by having firms providing competitive measures via ludic elements such as scoreboards, badges, levels, they can quantify and accumulate massive data on people using their services. This means that users using the services gain the feeling of individual agency when they are making a certain action, when in reality the choice they make are carefully constructed by the firms to be exploitive for the firms’ perspective benefits.
Taking the Korean mobile chat app KakaoTalk as an example, it services a variety of different games that users can participate with a single goal to outcompete each other. Rankings are set every week between one and the one’s friends based on high scores that they have reached within the games and users are encouraged to participate to beat their friend’s score. However, it is worth noting that KakaoTalk, actually, has no intention of promoting competition because their interest lies in extracting monetary benefits from its users, and not competition. To them, competition is just a powerful tool that can lead to profits off users who want to feel a sense of narcissism. Users, in this sense, are commodified by the service provider and fall victim into not having ‘true’ agency.
Our classmate @malwedy, Nelson and Dawson have argued that competition generates excitement. This ties in with our narrative so far, as the sense of narcissism, and the sense of relative ‘supremacy,’ quantified by virtual scoreboards, is felt only because the users trying to reach ‘the top’ only does so for self-excitement. Hence, it can be said that competition can act as powerful tool to manipulate social behaviours using the elements of excitement (or fun), and narcissism (or egotism), to influence the users into believing they have full agency, and their actions are driven by their own agendas.