By: Clemens Ackermann   Max Hossfeld   Johanna Kleinen  

"There was once […] an automaton constructed in such a way that it could respond to every move by a chess player with a countermove that would ensure the winning of the game.” Today, we are accustomed to highly sophisticated virtual opponents in gaming, however, in 1770, when Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen constructed his gaming machine, a seemingly inanimate counterpart that could win ad libitum was something utterly new. No longer was there a strict boundary between two players who competed against each other on a leveled playing field, but the constellation had changed. The game as a medium was no longer truly in the middle, but instead, the human player was pitted against a machine in control of the medium. However, as we learn in Walter Benjamin’s Concept of History, the human player was not actually competing with an automaton, but with a “hunchbacked dwarf […] who sat inside”. The player never realizes that it is him who is being played by, as Benjamin concludes, the puppet that is “historical materialism”. Kempelen’s automaton created an illusion that blurred the relations of power whilst leading the human player to believe that he is “just” playing. This talk inquires the potentials of gamification and whether it is a tool that gives back agency to the player and takes away the burdens of labor or whether it is a means that furthermore obscures the boundaries between the various stakeholders thus solidifying the role of the worker as cog in the (virtual) machinery.

Gamification, Mediality, Medium
Media Technologies
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Clemens Ackermann

Research Coordination Internationalization, ARENA2036, ARENA2036, Germany
Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Max Hossfeld

CTO, ARENA2036, Germany

Johanna Kleinen

PhD Student, -, Daimler AG, Germany
-, Germany