Why Gamification is Bullshit

Bogost, Ian

In his tiny treatise On Bullshit, the moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt (2005) gives us a useful theory of bullshit. We normally think of bullshit as a synonym—albeit a somewhat vulgar one—for lies or deceit. But Frankfurt argues that bullshit has nothing to do with truth. Rather, bullshit is used to conceal, to impress, or to coerce. Unlike liars, bullshitters have no use for the truth. All that matters to them is hiding their ignorance or bringing about their own benefit.

In a short position statement presented at a small, invitation-only conference on gamification at the University of Pennsylvania’s...