Experimental GamesCritique, Play, and Design in the Age of Gamification

Experimental GamesCritique, Play, and Design in the Age of Gamification

Patrick Jagoda

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226629834

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


In our unprecedentedly networked world, games have come to occupy an important space in many of our everyday lives. Digital games alone engage an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide as of 2020, and other forms of gaming, such as board games, role playing, escape rooms, and puzzles, command an ever-expanding audience. At the same time, “gamification”—the application of game mechanics to traditionally nongame spheres, such as personal health and fitness, shopping, habit tracking, and more—has imposed notable levels of competition, repetition, and quantification on daily life. Drawing from game studies and experience in game design, this book argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. It studies experimental games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out, examining a broad variety of mainstream and independent games, including StarCraft, Candy Crush Saga, Stardew Valley, Dys4ia, Braid, and Undertale. Beyond a diagnosis of gamification, this book imagines ways that games can be experimental—not only in the sense of problem solving, but also the more nuanced notion of problem making that embraces the complexities of our digital present. The book is a contribution to fields that include American studies, media theory, art history, literary criticism, political theory, science studies, and game studies.