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Level Up: The Gamification of Bodies and Relationships Through Technology

As an extension to my blogging on video games + culture, my final project investigates the application of video game mechanics to our lives; the phenomenon of gamification In my multimedia essay I attempt to understand the gamification of everyday life, and the reason for and effects of technology’s role in this.

Mobile apps and tech accessories sneak gamification into most aspects of our lives- we use them to exercise, diet, sleep, date, and organize our lives. Tools such as NetDiary, WiiFit, Nike + Kinect, and SleepCycle gather the data of how our bodies function and of our progress, which then allows for tests, experiments and comparisons.

This data-driven lifestyle also takes shape as ‘self-tracking’, ‘auto-analytics’, ‘body hacking’ and ‘self-quantifying’, but what makesgamification unique is that it aims to increase motivation and efficiency through engagement. This is accomplished through the application of points, levels, badges, demeanors and visual progress, just as are found in video games.

This is interesting because machines are now, in a sense, working with the ‘intangibles’ of the human being; something we’ve always assumed to be impossible in the foreseeable future. By translating our humanness into data, the intangibles have essentially been separated from our bodies. This information is now readable by technology, which is a development that Hayles described to be our evolution into posthumanism. “There are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot technology and human goals.”

As the development of gamification through technology is inevidably becoming a more prominent part of our lives in the digital age, my essay focuses on our discussion of this evolution; the discourse used by the designers and the users of these tools in discussing what this means for us as humans.

 

The link to my essay, created using Scroll Kit: 

 

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