“Gamification Does Not Belong at a University”


This paper reports a case study in which some students in a large-scale gamification implementation project wrote a script that automated their progression. The incident was followed with multi-sited ethnography and analysed through the lens of Goffman’s frame analysis. Based on chat logs, mail correspondence, data on user behaviour in the learning management system, informal conversations and student interviews, the study shows that different actors have somewhat different perceptions of gamification, as they framed the incident with the script in different ways. The students saw their actions as a form of resistance and activism towards problematic game design and had a desire to uphold specific tech-student identities. The gamification designers treated the incident as an act of playfulness and display of technological skills. The university, on the other hand, framed the incident as cheating. The study highlights the need for educational institutions to be knowledgeable about games and gaming behaviour if they want to implement gamification.