Playing on the Ludic Drive—The Potentials of Meaningful Gamification

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The contribution of this article to the discourse in media studies is the identification of current trends and future potentials in gamification. Most broadly, it identifies meaningful gamification as a field that could potentially denote a paradigm shift in human-machine-interaction. It therefore critically inquires the potentials of gamification and whether it is a tool that gives back agency to the worker/player and takes away the burdens of labor or whether it is a means that further obscures the boundaries between the pecuniary interests of corporate stakeholders, thus solidifying the role of the worker as a cog in the (virtual) machinery. By working through historical examples that show how various stakeholders exploited man’s ludic drive for their own respective interests, this article eventually arrives at the point where game elements are meaningfully implemented in working environments. Accordingly, a development from mere prestidigitation to actual play shows the pitfalls and potentials of gamification as a means that potentially gives back agency to the very subject the automaton had (seemingly) drowned out before.