suspended

Well-known member
Wow! This is what I've been thinking and writing about all year! I have lots of thoughts! I am excited to read over this thread!
 

suspended

Well-known member
Games provide pleasure via what C. Thi Nguyen, in 2020's Games and the Art of Agency, calls "value clarity":
Life is a confusing welter of subtle values, in a vast and confusing plurality. Living our lives, as fully sensitive valuing agents, involves making painful judgments, tough decision calls, and agonizing comparisons.
In game life, our temporary agency's values are usually extremely clear. That clarity is encoded into a game's specification of its goals. The values we take on in games are clearer, easier to apply, and easier to evaluate than our enduring values.
Game play, in other words, involves an "all-consumingly instrumental mode of practical reasoning." The legibility, meanwhile, allows public ranking, encourages improvements in productivity and performance by establishing common knowledge of relative performance, fostering competition among members.
 

suspended

Well-known member
"Value capture," meanwhile, occurs when:
1. Our values are, at first, rich and subtle.
2. We encounter simplified (often quantified) versions of those values.
3. Those simplified versions take the place of our richer values in our reasoning and motivation.
4. Our lives get worse.
In "simplifying the specification of the target" we end up pursuing, "with ever more ferver and ferocity, the wrong target."
Such measures are useful, but we must always recall that they are merely abbreviations—usefully portable simplifications of something larger and subtler. But when our values are captured, we are motivationally caught by a simplified measure.
 

suspended

Well-known member
The appeal of value clarity can lead institutions to what Nguyen calls accidental gamification, where game-like features—such as clear metrics, often introduced top-down with the explicit aim of motivating employees through public competition:
[A]cademic life has recently come to be ruled by quantified metrics for research quality—like citation rates and impact factors. These metrics may not have explicitly been designed to produce gamification among researchers. Conceivably, they arose from the bureaucratic need to collate information, or in university administrators' quest to make more object-sounding decisions about faculty hiring and promotion. But the clear, simple, and quantified nature of such metrics can foster game-like motivation... We could be drawn to redefine our notion of success in the newly clear terms specified by those metrics. (2020)
 

luka

Well-known member
The appeal of value clarity can lead institutions to what Nguyen calls accidental gamification, where game-like features—such as clear metrics, often introduced top-down with the explicit aim of motivating employees through public competition:
this has always worked best in areas like sales. who made the most sales. nice and simple. youre the winner.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
@constant escape you should add "surrogation" and "degeneration" to your personal glossary

Honestly I'm skeptical of leaning on the word degenerate, but perhaps there are just use-cases that I'm not familiar with. Surrogation is a good one though, haven't really felt it out yet.
 

suspended

Well-known member
Again, I think exercise is an example of something that's good for you and can be made addictive. Take fitbits — people counting steps they've made seems to be a very powerful motivator for taking more steps. That might seem "pathetic", but if the end result is that you're walking more and you're healthier, does that matter? I guess there's an anti-gamification argument of us all being turned into stupid robots dancing to the corporate sheet music...
The amazing thing that Nguyen talks about is how we lose track of this measurement system as a tool to getting more exercise, and start worshipping it on its own terms. Tom Griffiths calls this "idolatry," like how in the Bible you're not supposed to worship idols that represent God because they lead you astray—you're supposed to worship God directly

So you end up with people turning down dinner invites to get their 10,000 steps in, or worse, jumping up and down a lot of times because that shakes the fitbit and tricks it into hitting the target.
 

suspended

Well-known member
this has always worked best in areas like sales. who made the most sales. nice and simple. youre the winner.
Yes it works well when the company goals are super simple, "sell the most." "Okay you sold a bunch you're the best"

But then the police department tries its hand, says, "Districts with the least crime win." And now you have police officers doing the equivalent of shaking a fitbit in their hand to get to 10k steps. "Oh that's not burglary that's just ah, a lost item, no crime in this district." Refusing to file robberies. Downgrading felonies to misdemeanours. This is what The Wire is all about.
 

suspended

Well-known member
"Doing the thing that gets me on the news" is also sort of like this. It's the "training" idea. People's behavior is warped by the incentive system they live inside. And if the media spectacle rewards people who have big showy drug busts, you'll get lieutenants who optimize for big showy drug busts, especially if they're gunning for promotions. Pretty soon the hierarchy is stratified with people at the top who are best for optimizing for big showy drug busts instead of Actually Minimizing Crime.
 

luka

Well-known member
btw 'scoreboards looking ridiculous' is a popular often recycled phrase in stabbing rap referring to the scoreboard between two stabbing gangs. we've killed 5 of your friends and you've only killed 2 of ours. we are in the lead.
 

suspended

Well-known member
American democracy has no way of really evaluating politician performance. People don't really know which campaign promises were kept. It's hard to link improvements or downturns to specific policy, especially in the short-term—maybe ten years later researchers have a good idea, but it's too late to matter. Politicians get boosted or doomed by economic turns that have nothing to do with them (the foundation for a collapse or boom started long before their term)

So the "real" incentive structure of the political game is all optics. All a big show for the public. The people who rise to the tippety top are the ones best at putting on a good show.
 

boxedjoy

Well-known member
this has always worked best in areas like sales. who made the most sales. nice and simple. youre the winner.
this can be really demotivating though. I've been in environments where the competition had too many variables to be a fair contest. If someone comes up to you prepared and ready to spend £500 and all you have to do is point them in a direction while someone else works really hard to pry £100 from the most miserly curmudgeon then it's not really worth celebrating as a win is it.
 

suspended

Well-known member
this can be really demotivating though. I've been in environments where the competition had too many variables to be a fair contest. If someone comes up to you prepared and ready to spend £500 and all you have to do is point them in a direction while someone else works really hard to pry £100 from the most miserly curmudgeon then it's not really worth celebrating as a win is it.
Yea complexity and luck seems a big part of this

When I worked as a canvasser (this was when I was eating off $3 a day) (a canvasser is the person who stops you in the street or knocks on your door asking you to give money to a political cause) it worked like this:

- You have 3 days from hiring to raise $200 in a day
- From that point forward, everyday you have to hit quota ($200)
- You're fired if you either 1) fail to average $1000 a week, 2) go three days in a row under quota

As you can imagine it was a brutal job, you're standing in July heat in downtown New York trying to get business men to give money to Planned Parenthood or gay rights. Rightwing nuts are yelling at you because you're raising money for abortion. Leftwing nuts are yelling at you because your script doesn't explicitly mention abortion and "it's important to normalize medical procedures rather than treat them as taboo." People want to tell you about Israel/Palestine. Meanwhile you're scraping to hit quota, going to New Jersey knocking on suburban doors. People averaged 3-5 days on the job before leaving, every Monday it was a totally new group of people.

Somehow I managed to stick around all summer til the term started. By the time I left not a single person from my cohort was still around, at best maybe one person from a cohort of 10-15 would make it past the first month. By the end it was just me and a guy names James and a gal named Kat, we knew each other well enough that we'd swap donations. So, say, one day I do well get $300, I give $80 over to Kat because she had a bad corner. Next week when I get a bad corner she throws some donations my way. You keep one another a float by pooling excess.
 

boxedjoy

Well-known member
I've never been an environment where it was about survival, just incentive and competition, and I think that makes a difference - because normal people, once they realise the system is unfair, simply don't care enough. Gamification is about competition but it's also borne of entertainment - the clue is the word "game"
 

catalog

Well-known member
Yea complexity and luck seems a big part of this

When I worked as a canvasser (this was when I was eating off $3 a day) (a canvasser is the person who stops you in the street or knocks on your door asking you to give money to a political cause) it worked like this:

- You have 3 days from hiring to raise $200 in a day
- From that point forward, everyday you have to hit quota ($200)
- You're fired if you either 1) fail to average $1000 a week, 2) go three days in a row under quota

As you can imagine it was a brutal job, you're standing in July heat in downtown New York trying to get business men to give money to Planned Parenthood or gay rights. Rightwing nuts are yelling at you because you're raising money for abortion. Leftwing nuts are yelling at you because your script doesn't explicitly mention abortion and "it's important to normalize medical procedures rather than treat them as taboo." People want to tell you about Israel/Palestine. Meanwhile you're scraping to hit quota, going to New Jersey knocking on suburban doors. People averaged 3-5 days on the job before leaving, every Monday it was a totally new group of people.

Somehow I managed to stick around all summer til the term started. By the time I left not a single person from my cohort was still around, at best maybe one person from a cohort of 10-15 would make it past the first month. By the end it was just me and a guy names James and a gal named Kat, we knew each other well enough that we'd swap donations. So, say, one day I do well get $300, I give $80 over to Kat because she had a bad corner. Next week when I get a bad corner she throws some donations my way. You keep one another a float by pooling excess.
Doesn't sound as hard as being on dissensus tbh
 

woops

is not like other people
this can be really demotivating though. I've been in environments where the competition had too many variables to be a fair contest. If someone comes up to you prepared and ready to spend £500 and all you have to do is point them in a direction while someone else works really hard to pry £100 from the most miserly curmudgeon then it's not really worth celebrating as a win is it.
unless you don't care about anything except the 500 part, if you were a line manager for example
 
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