The Limits of Gamification

Jarret and Alix have published an intriguing article in Foreign Policy on how jihadi ideologues and forum administrators are deliberately applying gaming principles to their discussion boards and propaganda.  The jihadis are doing so to encourage their readers to compete with one another to embody the community’s ethos and take direct action. That’s a new way to frame some old features of jihadi discussion boards and propaganda.  But given that the features were around well before gamification was theorized, it’s a stretch to say that Awlaki or anyone else is deliberately employing gaming techniques in a “systematic” way, as the authors assert.  There are some other claims in the article that are also difficult to verify, such as the notion that competition for things like virtual badges leads to violent action (there may be some other factor causing both intense competition and violence, cases that confirm the theory are few

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