The academic homestead of Annika Waern

Jonas Linderoth on ‘ludified meaning’

By a fluke, my Gothenburg-based colleague Jonas Linderoth started his blog ‘Spelvetenskapliga betraktelser’ the same day as I started my blog. I think he was tired of always get called to the barricades when games are under attack in popular media in Sweden, and wanted to create a place where he could develop his argument a bit less defensively.

His second post deals with the ‘ludified meaning’ that games create. The ‘ludified meaning’ is the reason why e.g. backgammon is the same game played no matter if you use pieces made of ebony or capsules – the meaning of the game is created internally, and related to the rules and goals of the game. The thing with ludified meaning is that not only does it create meaning within the game, it also redefines the meaning of things brought into the game, such as, things that the game simulates. Killing something or someone in a game is usually not perceived as killing by its players, but as a way to score points. Through this resignification, games create a very local meaning that tends to trivialize concepts and themes brought into them. Ludification is more than a hypothes: it’s a pretty well documented phenomenon and Jonas provides a host of references – look them up!

Ludification is a strong counterargument in the game violence debate, and it is a core challenge to the concept of gamification (using game structures to make people have more fun while doing something else, particularly learning). The only problem I have with it is that given my research into (and experience of) role-play, I don’t think ludification is the only thing that goes on in games…

(Jonas blogs in Swedish, as he is very active in the Swedish debate. Try google translate on his text – it’s well worth reading!)

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