Looking Forward – Episode 10 Follow-up

Our last episode for Level 1 looked back on what we’ve learnt from our gamified explorations so far, so it seems fitting that this follow-up blog peers forward into the future a little. As I mentioned in last week’s post, we’re planning to ‘level up’ in more ways than one for our next series of videos, but in the meantime I’m going to continue to put together some thoughts on different facets of our gamified world on this site. In mapping out what’s coming up next though, I need to travel briefly back in time again…

3D Pokeballs by Lee McKusick (CC BY 2.0)

To say 2016 was a big year in the realm of gamification is an understatement, not least of all because of the launch of Pokémon GO. There was probably even less chance of avoiding the ubiquitous commentary on this development than there was of escaping debate on Donald Trump’s run for the US presidency. Danielle and I were actually in the midst of planning and filming our Level 1 episodes when people all around the globe began to venture outside to catch virtual creatures on/through their smartphone screens. The issues this sparked in the press and elsewhere were many, ranging from familiar moral panics to the potential of Augmented Reality (a term I can now use confidently without feeling like I need to add a hyperlink… well, if you need it, here. 🙂

P1000788 Pokemaniacs by Sigfrid Lundberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We decided that to dedicate one of our brief episodes to covering something as transformative as Pokémon GO in the very year of its inception was doomed to be hopelessly inadequate, so we committed to return to it in some other form later on. We will no doubt raise the example at regular intervals – just as so many others are destined to do so as they endlessly compare it to things that come ‘after‘ – yet for now, I have in mind a series of blogs that will look into different aspects of the Pokémon GO app, its reception, and the culture that has built around it – so stay tuned!

In the lead-up to focusing on Pokémon GO, the next several weeks will be dedicated to another pivotal issue: cultural representations of gamification, particularly in the influential contexts of television and film. This issue has not to my knowledge been explored in any depth, but seems to me to be a crucial element of the ongoing frustrations and problems encountered by those who seek to encourage and use gamification for the betterment of society. The dystopian discourses that still surround digital innovation broadly, and gaming in particular, are a product of – and simultaneously reinforce – the moral panics that are so readily connected to the new, the strange, the unfamiliar. Only in exposing, critiquing, and resisting these panics can society and the citizens within it be granted enough space to develop an informed understanding of gamification’s limitations and benefits. But that’s enough of dystopian heaviness for now…

Enjoy catching some Pokémon today like you got nothing to worry about! It’s not like the world’s been taken over or anything…

Poke-Ball by Ian Gampon (CC BY 2.0)

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Feature image: P1000794 Pokemaniacs by Sigfrid Lundberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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