Could Gamification Present a Significant Topic for the Philosophy of Sport?



This article focuses on the phenomenon of gamification in the context of the philosophy of sport.  Gamification is usually understood as a process of adding games or game-like elements to some activity in order to encourage participation. Gamification takes the techniques that game designers use to engage players and applies them to motivate people in different spheres of our lives.

With the rapid development of cyber games and the penetrating everyday lives of many young people, gamification becomes an important issue for different fields of study. In economic discourse, it is often used as a business strategy. For pedagogy, it can present an educational method or teaching instrument, and psychologists examine gamification as a motivational method.

In the context of sports, gamification provides a possibility for various empirical sociological studies. However, the sociological investigations could be supported by studies of philosophical backgrounds of gamification applied in the field of sports. Some authors speak about the concept of meaningful gamification. They are mostly explained more from psychological positions (exploring the theories of motivation etc.) than from the philosophical ones.

Virtuality and the virtual worlds connected with cyberspace (from which gamification comes) are often understood as the opposite of reality (or escape from reality). Thus, it could be taken as something inauthentic. Badges and points present "pure" instruments that could strengthen the instrumental approach to the world. However, is it as simple?

In the philosophical discourse, we could examine gamification from a range of different positions. This article assesses two possible ways in terms of how to describe and discuss gamification in the philosophical discourse. One is the topic of game and play based on the work of Johan Huizinga. The other is the concept of authenticity and instrumentality based on Martin Heidegger, Jan Patočka, and Hans-Georg Gadamer.

It appears probable that gamification in sport is rapidly spreading, and it will be examined within different empirical studies more and more. This article argues that this phenomenon is also as an interesting topic for the philosophy of sport.

gamification; play; authenticity; meaningfulness.

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