PATRICK JAGODA on Experimental Games and the Videogame Sensorium

In this lecture, Patrick Jagoda (University of Chicago) will discuss "gamification" - the impact of game-mechanics on a variety of social and cultural practices - by focusing on the experimental nature of videogames.

Experimental Games and the Videogame Sensorium
Gamification, a term that derives from behavioral economics and design culture, is the use of game mechanics in traditionally non-game activities. This buzzword emerged only in the twenty-first century but the idea of game-based behavior modification already appears as early as the 1940s in writing on business, marketing, psychology, and warfare. Numerous adopters of gamification across different fields regularly proclaim it to be an unparalleled organizational technique. Arguably, gamification is not merely a generalizable game design strategy that can be applied to areas such as education but also as a form that economic, social, and cultural life takes in the world of the early twenty-first century. This talk approaches the worldview of gamification through the experimental nature of videogames. Instead of pursuing a merely taxonomic account of experimental games as a marketing category, subgenre, or loose formal orientation, the talk takes seriously the fundamental question: What exactly does it mean for games to be designated as operationally “experimental”? Drawing from the history of gamification and videogame aesthetics, I argue that games in the early twenty-first century should be conceived not merely objects, forms, or activities, but as nothing less than a unique mode of experimental thought and learning.

Patrick Jagoda is Associate Professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is also a co-editor of Critical Inquiry and co-founder of both the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and the Transmedia Story Lab. He is the author of Network Aesthetics (2016) and co-author with Michael Maizels of The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer (2016). He is currently working on his next book, Experimental Games. Patrick has published over thirty essays in both humanistic and scientific journals. For more on this projects and writing, please visit:

Published June 8, 2018 4:37 PM - Last modified June 8, 2018 4:37 PM