Glossary of productive play

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The Glossary of Productive Play

The Glossary of Productive Play is a work by XPUB 2021-2022 students. Throughout the last semester, we have been reading and discussing a lot about different topics regarding Productive Play. We could not think about a better way to collect and gather all the meaningful terms we went through than this Glossary.

Every word has a different depth of content depending on how much we dove into them and how much we got interested in them.

You can see the use of this Glossary in the production and launch of our publication: Special Issue 17


1. Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. People can get addicted to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to medicines, cigarettes, even glue. Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who's addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both. [Wikipedia]

A person crosses the line between abuse and addiction when he or she is no longer trying the drug to have fun or get high but has come to depend on it. His or her whole life centres around the need for the drug(or --). An addicted person — whether it's a physical or psychological addiction or both — no longer feels like there is a choice in taking a substance.

2. The modern meaning of “addiction” is an uneasy amalgam of several contradictory legacies: a religious one, which has censured excessive drinking, gambling and drug use as moral transgressions; a scientific one, which has characterized alcoholism and drug addiction as biological diseases; and a colloquial one, which has casually applied the term to almost any fixation.

Mentioned in: The addictive cost of predatory videogames monetization (The Jimquisition) by Jim Sterling; Can You Really Be Addicted to Video Games? By Ferris Jabr

In context: Video Game Addiction: As defined by the ICD-11, the main criterion for this disorder is a lack of self-control over gaming.

In a sentence: "Addiction is compulsive engagement in a rewarding experience despite serious repercussions. And it results from a confluence of biology, psychology, social environment and culture."


15th-18th century: “Addiction" at the time meant "to attach" to something, giving it both positive and negative connotations.

19th century: Modern research on addiction has led to a better understanding of the disease with research studies on the topic dating back to 1875, specifically on morphine addiction. This furthered the understanding of addiction being a medical condition. It wasn't until the 19th century that addiction was seen and acknowledged in the Western world as a disease, being both a physical condition and a mental illness.

Today: Addiction is understood both as a biopsychosocial and neurological disorder that negatively impacts those who are affected by it, most commonly associated with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The understanding of addiction has changed throughout history, which has impacted and continues to impact the ways it is medically treated and diagnosed.

See also Productive Play, Lootbox, Gambling


1. The anchoring effect is a cognitive bias whereby an individual's decisions are influenced by a particular reference point or 'anchor'. Once the value of the anchor is set, subsequent arguments, estimates, etc. made by an individual may change from what they would have otherwise been without the anchor.

2. Ideology and anchoring point (the point de capiton [mentioned by Lacan] - French word to say anchoring point) How does an ideology maintain its consistency? What keeps of ideological field of meaning consistent? Any given ideological field is "quilted" by the point de capiton. A point de capiton unifies an ideological field and provides it with an identity. What is at issue in the conflict of ideologies is precisely the point de capiton. Signifiers such as "freedom", "democracy", "human rights," etc. are open-ended. Their meanings can slide about depending on the context of their use. For example, a right-wing interpretation of the word "freedom" might use it to designate the freedom to speculate on the market, whereas a left-wing interpretation of it might use it designate freedom from the inequalities of the market. The word "freedom" therefore does not mean the same thing in all possible worlds: what pins its meaning down is the point de capiton.

Mentioned in: The Addictive Cost of Predatory Videogames Monetization (The Jimquisition) by Jim Sterling

In context:

"An individual may be more likely to purchase a car if it is placed alongside a more expensive model (the anchor). Prices discussed in negotiations that are lower than the anchor may seem reasonable, perhaps even cheap to the buyer, even if said prices are still relatively higher than the actual market value of the car."

"While estimating the orbit of Mars, one might start with the Earth's orbit (365 days) and then adjust upward until they reach a value that seems reasonable (usually less than 687 days, the correct answer)." [Wikipedia]

In a sentence: The anchoring effect is when individuals' decisions are influenced by a particular reference point or 'anchor'.

See also Dispositif (as apparatus), Monetization, Hook Model


1. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear is not temporary and can be overwhelming. []

Anxiety disorders are conditions in which you have anxiety that does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.

2. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

3. Strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen.

Mentioned in: We Are All Very Anxious by weareplanc

In context:

"In contemporary capitalism, the dominant reactive affect is anxiety."
"Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms of intensity, self-expression, emotional connection, immediacy, and enjoyment are now laced with anxiety. It has become the linchpin of subordination."
"Public secrets are typically personalised. The problem is only visible at an individual, psychological level; the social causes of the problem are concealed."
"When discussed at all, they are understood as individual psychological problems, often blamed on faulty thought patterns or poor adaptation."
"The present dominant effect of anxiety is also known as precarity. Precarity is a type of insecurity that treats people as disposable so as to impose control. Precarity differs from misery in that the necessities of life are not simply absent. They are available, but withheld conditionally."
"Anxiety is reinforced by the fact that it is never clear what the market wants from us."

Period: Contemporary Capitalism.

See also Capitalism, Self-work


1. The quality of being made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally.
2. Insincerity or affectedness. [Oxford Languages]

A-Trajectory-of-Artificiality-1.png | A Trajectory of Artificiality

Base & Superstructure

1. In Marxist theory, society consists of two parts: the Base (or substructure) and the Superstructure.

The base refers to the mode of production which includes the forces and relations of production (e.g. employer-employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations) into which people enter to produce the necessities and amenities of life.

The superstructure refers to society's other relationships and ideas not directly relating to production including its culture, institutions, political power structures, roles, rituals, religion, media, and state. The relation of the two parts is not strictly unidirectional. The superstructure can affect the base. However, the influence of the base is predominant. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: "The Ruling Class and the Ruling Ideas by Marx & Engels" (1845) in the introduction: "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: I.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, consequently also controls the means of mental productions"; Leftypedia

Base-superstructure Dialectic.png

In context: from "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory" by Raymond Williams: "Clearly what we are examining in the base is primary productive forces. Yet some very crucial distinctions have to be made here. It is true that in his analysis of capitalist production Marx considered ‘productive work’ in a very particular and specialized sense corresponding to that mode of production. There is a difficult passage in the Grundrisse (1857-61)[Marx's notebooks - published after his death in 1939-41] in which he argues that while the man who makes a piano is a productive worker, there is a real question whether the man who distributes the piano is also a productive worker; but he probably is, since he contributes to the realization of surplus value. Yet when it comes to the man who plays the piano, whether to himself or to others, there is no question: he is not a productive worker at all. So piano-maker is base, but pianist superstructure."

See also: Productivity, Capitalism, Ideology

Behavioural Game Design

1. Cognitive behavioural game design (CBGD) is a new framework that incorporates SCT, the theory of MIs, and game design elements into a unified model that guides designers through a process to create games for learning and behavioural change.

Mentioned in: Behavioural Game Design

In context: There are actions on the part of the participant which provide a reward under specific circumstances. Some common terms in behavioural psychology as they apply to game design considerations:

  • Reinforcer: An outcome or result, generally used to refer to a reward. Examples: an experience point, winning a level, a bigger gun.
  • Contingency: A rule or set of rules governing when reinforcers are given. Also referred to as a schedule of reinforcement. Examples: a level every 1,000 experience points, a bonus level that is only available if you kill a certain opponent.
  • Response: An action on the part of the player that can fulfil the contingency. This could be killing a monster, visiting an area of the game board, or using a special ability.

In a sentence: "There are actions on the part of the participant which provide a reward under specific circumstances."


1. Bric-à-brac (French: [bʁi.ka.bʁak]) or bric-a-brac, first used in the Victorian era, refers to lesser objets d'art forming collections of curios, such as elaborately decorated teacups and small vases, compositions of feathers or wax flowers under glass domes, decorated eggshells, porcelain figurines, painted miniatures or photographs in stand-up frames, and so on.

In middle-class homes Bric-à-brac was used as an ornament on mantelpieces, tables, and shelves, or was displayed in curio cabinets: sometimes these cabinets have glass doors to display the items within while protecting them from dust. Today, bric-à-brac refers to a selection of items of modest value, often sold in street markets and charity shops, and may be more commonly known in colloquial English as "knick knacks". In Yiddish such items are known as tchotchkes.

Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman Jr., in The Decoration of Houses (1897), distinguished three gradations of quality in such "household ornaments": bric-à-brac, bibelots (trinkets) and objets d'art. [Wikipedia]


Period: 19th & 20th Century

See also Anxiety


1. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. [Webster's Dictionary]

2. Capitalism is often thought of as an economic system in which private actors own and control property in accord with their interests, and demand and supply freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society. The essential feature of capitalism is the motive to make a profit. In standard Marxist historiography capitalism is the mode of production that follows feudalism and precedes socialism. [Leftypedia]

Mentioned in: texts by Marx, Marx & Engels, Gramsci, Williams

In context: Capitalism is characterized by:

  • factory production
  • money exchange
  • private ownership
  • wage-labour
  • profit-making
  • production for exchange (commodities)

In a sentence: “It is easier to imagine the end of the world that the end of capitalism.”

Period: XVI century - present

See also Productivity

Click farm

1. A form of click fraud where a large group of low-paid workers are hired to click on paid advertising links for the click farmer. The workers click the links, surf the target website for a period of time, and possibly sign up for newsletters prior to clicking another link. It is extremely difficult for an automated filter to detect this simulated traffic as fake because the visitor behavior appears exactly the same as that of an actual legitimate visitor.

Mentioned in: Lee Munson; What Are Click Farms & How Do They Work?.

In context: Click farms are used by all sorts of businesses, often to inflate their following or engagement, and they can be hired to do multiple actions such as:

Services offered by click farms can include:

  • Social media followers and likes.
  • Posting comments on websites or social media.
  • Generating website traffic.
  • Creating backlinks.
  • Carrying out repetitive click-based tasks.
  • Channelling traffic to fraudulent sites to increase rankings, domain authority or to collect payouts on display ads.
  • Sharing, often fake, news articles (troll factories).

With the majority of the world’s click farms based in countries with minimal employment and labour laws, their main legal issues are around employee rights, working conditions and wages.


In a sentence: as online engagement became currency, click farms exploit workers in order to mass produce fraudulent user interactions.

See also Term Productive Play

Collective sensitivity

(or: sensibility)

Sensitivity (noun) /sɛnsɪˈtɪvɪti/
1. The quality or condition of being sensitive.
2. Feelings liable to be offended or hurt; sensibilities.

Sensitive /ˈsɛnsɪtɪv/
1. Quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences.
2. Having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others' feelings.

1. Sensibility is the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity.

2. Collective sensibility is an attempt to create an artificial standard of the senses in order for a dominant culture to control a population and its possible division. To comply to the collective sensibility is to compromise on one's individual sensibility in order for this individual to fit in a culture.

Mentioned in: Well Played by Vicky Osterweil;;;;

In context: Collective sensibility is an attempt to create an artificial standard of the senses in order for a dominant culture to control a population and its possible division. To comply to the collective sensibility is to compromise on one's individual sensibility in order for this individual to fit in a culture.

  • What one senses vs what one should sense
  • Standardisation of the senses
  • Artificial standard
  • Shared apprehension of a surrounding
  • Desensitisation of the individual
  • Norm for sensibility
  • Numbness
  • Establishing norms
  • Refusal to be conscious of one's feeling
  • Comfort

In a sentence:
"Without a collective sensibility, these crowds would (and still often did) form their own modes of culture based in older forms of collectivity and knowledge that showed no respect for the norms of the factory or the city.", "sense of shared culture".
"To achieve collaborative networks, we need leaders and people who have a collective sensibility. Starting by being mature and predictable, people must learn to share knowledge, make and keep their commitments, be civil and generous, and to step up and be accountable to others and the business."
"Both personal and collective sensibility may share a cultural watershed, but are seen to evolve independently."
"More generally, the sensitivity identifies pivotal components that precisely determine collective outcomes generated by a complex network of interactions."
"Group social sensitivity, hence, is expected to be conducive for high levels of performance across multiple tasks..."


1. As ideology: Communism or (radical) socialism is the belief that the capitalist mode of production should be abolished in favor for a classless, moneyless, stateless society. [Wikipedia]

2. As society: Communism, also referred to as socialism, is the society that Marxism predicts will succeed capitalism. Communism is based on common ownership of the means of production, cooperative labour, and freely associated producers (or, the free association of equal producers) that administer production on the basis of a social or common plan. The social character of labour, unlike in capitalism (see Law of value), is directly expressed (directly or immediately social labour) via the association of producers. Consequently, communism is a society without commodity production, commodity exchange (and markets) and therefore without a universal equivalent (i.e. money). Value, the value-form, and the law of value have therefore also disappeared. The superstructure arising from this base or economic structure would be based on the collective administration of free and social individuals. communism is therefore a stateless society. [Wikipedia]

3. The superstructure arising from this base or economic structure would be based on collective administration of free and social individuals. communism is therefore a stateless society. [Leftypedia]

Mentioned in: "The Communist Manifesto" (1848) by Marx & Engels.

In context: "All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise [the spectre of communism]: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies." (1840s) [Marx & Engels]

In a sentence: "A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism." [Marx & Engels]

Period: 1848 - Present

See also Base & Superstructure



1. A counterculture is a culture whose values and norms of behaviour differ substantially from those of mainstream society, sometimes diametrically opposed to mainstream cultural mores. A countercultural movement expresses the ethos and aspirations of a specific population during a well-defined era. [Wikipedia]
2. Countercultures often are of dissenting character in relation to the established superstructure/ruling ideologies. They become part of the popular culture or fully integrated to culture after revolutionary actions or activist actions, consistent and confident defiance of established "rules". Counter culture can also purposefully present themselves as disturbances of defiance of any current stream (may they cross as certain times) as a way to protest, as emancipation or contestation.

In context:
One famous counterculture is the hippy movement from the 60s-70s which was demonstrated by very defying aesthetically "divergent" hair features, sexual liberation, eye-catching fashion and uprisal against the dominant political/social structures.

Nowadays the queer community holds some of the keys to one of the main counterculture stream, where gender defaults are refuted, social norms re-evaluated and contested, communal cohesion starts with individual expression and affirmation, diversity first and foremost. Feminism has shared platforms between counter- and mainstream culture, where different aspects have been shared, when the queer community has always mainly evolved on the sidelines, it is now coming more and more in the main cultural streams.

Mainstream culture uses countercultures as fashionable ideologies on and off, but counterculture also makes use of mainstream society to vehiculate ideologies (pop culture, artists like Lady Gaga, channels counter-communities within mainstream medias).
“Born this way” has been the rallying cry of the mainstream gay rights movement [[1]]

See Fred Turner's From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (2008), which charts how the [(left)Libertarian] values of the US 1960s counterculture (hippy communes, experiments with LSD &c) are taken up by the big tech companies; so a lot of the 'freedom' rhetoric on the internet in the 2000s is related to the US 60s counterculture movement. The model for the network is provided by The. Whole Earth Catalog (1968) which advanced freedom via "access to tools"

In a sentence: Counterculture stands in opposition to the mainstream society until it gets incorporated within the mainstream society, mostly arising from social/political divergences/conflicts/defiance.

Period: originated in the 1960s - present

See also Counterhegemony, Mainstream


1. Counter-hegemony refers to attempts to critique or dismantle hegemonic power. In other words, it is a confrontation and/or opposition to existing status quo and its legitimacy in politics, but can also be observed in various other spheres of life, such as history, media, music, etc. (wiki)
"Counterhegemony is a notion developed by Antonio Gramsci (1995) to define the way people develop ideas and discourse to challenge dominant assumptions, beliefs and established patterns of behavior"

Mentioned in: texts by Gramsci, "Encoding/decoding model of communication" by Hall, "Subculture, the Meaning of Style" by Hebdidge.

In context: It could be a trade union library or a community-based orchestra (see The Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra).

Period: 1920s-2020s

See also Mainstream, Hegemony, Counterculture


1. Counter-Gamification can be described as a form of opposition to the increasing use of game elements within non-game systems, which aims to disrupt the processing and exploitation of users’ data; it calls for gaming with the system, for a disruptive play with its rules and content while being within it.

Mentioned in: "Counter-Gamification: Emerging Tactics and Practices Against the Rule of Numbers" by Dafne Dragona.

In context: There are artists who criticise ludic ideology by subverting the use of games. For example, while playing a game, users can't interact or have minimal interaction or don't obtain anything by playing.

Period: Contemporary.

See also Gamification, Productive Play


1. Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratiā, from dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule') is a form of government in which the people govern themselves, usually by electing bodies of representatives. Western capitalist society is dominated by liberal democracies, which revolutionary socialists criticise as legitimising organs of a dictatorship of the capitalist class, and obstacles against the establishment of meaningful democracy of the masses. [Leftypedia]

2. Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratiā, from dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule') is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choose governing officials to do so ("representative democracy"). Who is considered part of "the people" and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different rates in different countries, but over time more and more of a democratic country's inhabitants have generally been included. Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly, association and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.
The notion of democracy has evolved over time considerably. The original form of democracy was a direct democracy. The most common form of democracy today is a representative democracy, where the people elect government officials to govern on their behalf such as in a parliamentary or presidential democracy. [Wikipedia]

In context: "The term democracy first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city-state of Athens during classical antiquity. The word comes from dêmos '(common) people' and krátos 'force/might'. Under Cleisthenes, what is generally held as the first example of a type of democracy in 508–507 BC was established in Athens. Cleisthenes is referred to as "the father of Athenian democracy".[Wikipedia]

In a sentence: "Do we behave democratically in our day-to-day life?"

See also Capitalism, Ideology


1. Dispositif or dispositive is a term used by the French intellectual Michel Foucault, generally to refer to the various institutional, physical, and administrative mechanisms and knowledge structures which enhance and maintain the exercise of power within the social body. The links between these elements are said to be heterogeneous since knowledge, practices, techniques, and institutions are established and reestablished in every age. It is through these links that power relations are structured. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: "The Confession of the Flesh" (1977) by Foucault: "What I'm trying to pick out with this term is, firstly, a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions–in short, the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements"; "Gamification as 21st-century ideology" by M. Fuchs: "The dispositif that supports gamification is a heterogeneous ensemble in Foucault’s understanding of the apparatus because it contains multiple fields of application."

In context: An apparatus or a distribution of power which is non-hierarchical (where power does not come from the top down but is distributed, like an apparatus with different elements working together.) This differs from the base-superstructure model.

See also Base & Superstructure, Gamification, Ideology


1. The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centred on the value of human happiness, the pursuit of knowledge obtained by means of reason and the evidence of the senses, and ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: "What is Enlightenment?" by Kant (1724-1804): "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance." ; "What is Enlightenment?" (1984) by Michel Foucault: "What, then, is this event that is called the Aufklärung [enlightenment] and that has determined, at least in part, what we are, what we think, and what we do today?".

In a sentence: For Kant enlightenment is a condition of self-knowledge/self-understanding, which was emblematic of his era. For Foucault, the enlightenment represents a moment when people are able to reflect on the condition of their own thought.


1. Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience's attention. [Wikipedia]

2. Entertainment is the prolongation of work under late capitalism. [Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer]

Mentioned in: "Video Games as Meaningful Entertainment Experiences" by Mary Beth Oliver, Nicholas David Bowman, Julia K. Woolley, Ryan Rogers, Brett I. Sherrick and Mun-Young Chung; "Enlightenment as mass deception" by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.

In context: Movies are the easiest and most common form of entertainment that most people in the world consume. Other forms of entertainment are: Books, video games, tv shows, sporting events, circuses, comedy events, music festivals, etc.

In a sentence: Entertainment consists of performances of plays and films, and activities such as reading and watching television, that give people pleasure.

False Consciousness

1. False consciousness is a term used by some to describe ways in which material, ideological, and institutional processes are said to mislead members of the proletariat and other class actors within capitalist societies, concealing the exploitation intrinsic to the social relations between classes. [Wikipedia]

2. A materialist understanding of class is known by Marxists as 'class consciousness'. This understanding is the knowledge of one's own position in the economic hierarchy, and the acceptance of the interests which therefore benefit the individual. The term is most often used to describe the working class, or elements of it, becoming aware of their own exploitation and working to oppose it in unity with their fellow workers, but it can also be used to describe the self-awareness of the bourgeoisie of their superior position in society and their efforts to maintain the present hierarchy. It is often contrasted with its inverse, 'false consciousness', which describes the lack of this knowledge causing the worker to labour contrary to his own interests as a member of the oppressed class (for instance through vocal support of the ruling classes and existing power structures). [Leftypedia]


Mentioned in: "Gamification as twenty-first-century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs: "When the evangelists of gamification tell us that work must be play, that our personalities will be playful, that the whole economy is a game, and that each and every activity from cradle to grave can be turned into a game, we encounter false consciousness that is socially necessary." and "This state of alienation has also been referred to as 'false consciousness'. In the closing chapter of Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s Intellectual and Manual Labour (1978: 196), the author invokes the concept of 'necessary false consciousness. This is a type of false consciousness that is not just faulty consciousness; necessary false consciousness is rather a type of false consciousness that is logically correct. However cruel, meaningless or destructive it might seem, it is necessary for the system in which we are working to keep working until we die so that we will shop until we drop."

In context: "Gamification propaganda in the style of ‘work is play’, ‘work can be play’ or ‘work harder, play harder’ are suggesting that work can be contained within the ‘sphere of play’ (Huizinga [1938] 1949). Such statements and consequently the whole concept of gamification are ideological as they express false consciousness of the nature of work and play (see, e.g., the magazine covers in Figure 3, designed by Anthony Burrill 2008). " [Gamification as twenty-first-century ideology, Mathias Fuchs]

In a sentence: False consciousness is the state in which one feels like they are given full agency of their own choices/actions when in fact they are subject to a certain ideology that has come to seem so self-speaking they wouldn't question it.

Is false consciousness a function of ideology?

Period: Origin in History and Class Consciousness (1923) by the Hungarian philosopher and literary critic György Lukács - present

See also Gamification, Capitalism, Play, Ideology

Fan culture or fandom

1. A fandom is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the objects of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices, differentiating fandom-affiliated people from those with only a casual interest. [Wikipedia]

2. The history of the word “fandom” starts with a very old word — “fanatic.” “Fanatic” arose out of a Latin word, “fānāticus,” which, in turn, came from the word “fanum,” meaning “temple” or “shrine". In the late 19th-century, the word "fan" started to be used to describe an enthusiast of a certain sports team.

Mentioned in: "On productivity and game fandom" by Hanna Wirman; “Textual Poachers: Television Fan & Participatory Culture” by Henry Jenkins.

In context: Members of a fandom associate with one another and build a community around their fan interest (e.g.: celebrities, hobbies, genres, fashion, ...). A fan culture often includes fan activities such as conventions, writing fanfictions, participating in fan online forums and discussions, purchasing merchandise and collector items, etc. Some of the largest fandoms are the Harry Potter fandom, Anime fandom and the BTS army (BTS is a K-Pop group).

In a sentence: A fandom is a subgroup of fans that share a common interest.


1. Free to play (F2P or FTP) refers to a business model for online games in which the game designers do not charge the user or player in order to join the game. Instead, they hope to bring in revenue from advertisements or in-game sales, such as payment for upgrades, special abilities, special items, and expansion packs. Free-to-play games centre around gamers' willingness to purchase items or pay for access to new content once they have tried out the game and become familiar with its mechanics." [Techopedia]

2. Free-to-play's model is sometimes derisively referred to as free-to-start due to not being entirely free. There are several kinds of free-to-play business models. The most common is based on the freemium software model, in which users are granted access to a fully functional game but are incentivised to pay microtransactions to access additional content. Sometimes the content is entirely blocked without payment; other times it requires immense time 'unlocking' it for non-paying players and paying the fee speeds the unlocking process. Another method of generating revenue is to integrate advertisements into the game. The model was first popularly used in early massively multiplayer online games targeted towards casual gamers, before finding wider adoption among games released by major video game publishers to combat video game piracy. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: Matt Mihaly created the first known business model of exchanging virtual items for money in an online game in 1997. The model was later realised by Nexon in South Korea to a degree first catching more major media attention at the time. The first Nexon game to use it, QuizQuiz, was released in October 1999. Its creator Lee Seungchan would go on to create MapleStory.

Period: Contemporary (after late 1990s). The model started in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in some highly successful MMOs, targeting children and casual gamers.

In a sentence: Free-to-play games are easy to access for wider audiences because the user doesn't need to pay in order to play the game. Those games are monetised later either by using their user data (advertisements + get funding for critical user mass) or by adding payable content inside the game. Because of being so accessible, they became quite popular and attracted high numbers of players.

See also Pay-To-Play


1. Light-hearted pleasure, enjoyment, or amusement; boisterous joviality or merrymaking; entertainment. [Oxford English Dictionary]

2. Fun is "an absolutely primary category of life, familiar to everybody at a glance right down to the animal level" [Johan Huizinga]. Psychological studies reveal both the importance of fun and its effect on the perception of time, which is sometimes said to be shortened when one is having fun. As the adage states: "Time flies when you're having fun". With the emergence of the entertainment industry, fun is sold as a consumer product in the form of games, novelties, television, toys and other amusements. Marxist sociologists such as the Frankfurt School criticise mass-manufactured fun as too calculated and empty to be fully satisfying. [Wikipedia]


Mentioned in: texts by Johan Huizinga; Frankfurt school (e.g. Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse); "Gamification as 21st-century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs; “Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, scientific management and the capitalist appropriation of play” by Jennifer Dewinter, Carly A. Kocurek and Randall Nichols.

In context:

"In ev’ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun, and snap!
The job’s a game!"
[From Mary Poppins, 1964]

"Gamification can nowadays be spotted almost everywhere: When we look at theatre theory, we will find ‘game theatre’ (Rakow 2013: n.p.); when we look at religious blogs, we’ll find ‘gamifying religion’ (Toler 2013: n.p.); when we look at the information from health services, we’ll find ‘fun ways to cure cancer’ (Scott 2013: n.p.) or ‘dice game against swine flu’ (Marsh and Boffey 2009: n.p.); and when we investigate collective water management, we’ll find ‘games to save water’ (Meinzen-Dick 2013: n.p.)."[From Gamification as 21stcentury ideology by Mathias Fuchs]

"Ultimately, the attempt to harmonize play and labour, however, is ideology. Gamification that has at its core the suggestion that work can be fun is therefore caught in the trap of a self-contained ideological system that is in sync with the development of the relations of production of our society. And that is as glamorous and successful as it is untrue because of its nature as necessary false consciousness."[From Gamification as 21st century ideology by Mathias Fuchs]

"We question the underlying assumptions about games and play, which rely on highly procedural and simplified practice, that underpin gamification’s usefulness. As a process, gamification relies on two key additions to the Taylorist model: first, that work can be made more productive by duplicating things that are fun in non-leisure circumstances, and second, that play can be made productive by the compulsive and compulsory generation of data that can be fed back into production processes. In both cases, the act of ‘play’ is only superficially about fun. Instead, its real focus is the generation of data and the norming of leisure time as something that should be productive. In the first case, the hope is that the gamified training devices, marketing materials and so on will mimic fun well enough that workers will want to participate, perhaps even when they are off the clock. Coldstone Creamery’s various gamification experiments serve as excellent examples of this. As every student knows, things that attempt to make learning fun do not always succeed. In these cases, gamification results in something like a photocopy of fun and games, and just as with photocopies, each version loses a little detail. More problematic for workers, of course, is the question of what happens when gamified processes succeed and actually result in something so fun that work can creep into leisure time. In such moments, unless workers are compensated for the time spent, companies experience what is essentially a free boost to production. The more successfully fun the game, the larger the uncompensated productive boost." [from Taylorism 2.0]

See also Entertainment


1. Gambling (also known as betting or gaming) is the wagering something of value ("the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome with the intent of winning something else of value. Gambling thus requires three elements to be present: consideration (an amount wagered), risk (chance), and a prize. The outcome of the wager is often immediate, such as a single roll of dice, a spin of a roulette wheel, or a horse crossing the finish line, but longer time frames are also common, allowing wagers on the outcome of a future sports contest or even an entire sports season. [Wikipedia]

In context: Gambling can be an addictive habit.

Mentioned in: The addictive cost of predatory videogames monetization (The Jimquisition) by Jim Sterling;

See also Addiction, Gift , Loot Box, Monetization


1. (a) An informal game is merely undirected play, or 'playing around,' as when children or puppies play at rough and tumble.

(b) A formal game has a twofold structure based on ends and means:

  • Ends: it is a contest to achieve an objective.
  • Means. It has an agreed set of equipment and of procedural "rules" by which the equipment is manipulated to produce a winning situation.

[David Parlett]

2. A game is an activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context. A more conventional definition would say that a game is a context with rules among adversaries trying to win objectives.

  • Activity: a game is an activity, a process, an event;
  • Decision-makers: games require players actively making decisions;
  • Objectives: as with Parlett's definition, games have goals;
  • Limiting context: there are rules that limit and structure the activity of the game

The trouble with this definition is that not all games are contests among adversaries—in some games the players cooperate to achieve a common goal against an obstructing force or natural situation that is itself not really a player since it does not have objectives.

[Clark C. Abt]

3. [Play is] a free activity standing quite consciously outside "ordinary" life as being "not serious", but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings, which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.

  • is outside ordinary life;
  • is "not serious";
  • is utterly absorbing;
  • is not to be associated with material interest or profit;
  • takes place in its own boundaries of time and space;
  • proceeds according to rules;
  • creates social groups that separate themselves from the outside world;

[Johann Huizinga]


  • Free: in which playing is not obligatory; if it were, it would at once lose its attractive and joyous quality as diversion;
  • Separate: circumscribed within limits of space and time, defined and fixed in advance;
  • Uncertain: the course of which cannot be determined, nor the result attained beforehand, and some latitude for innovations being left to the player's initiative;
  • Unproductive: creating neither goods, nor wealth, nor new elements of any kind; and, except for the exchange of property among the players, ending in a situation identical to that prevailing at the beginning of the game;
  • Governed by rules: under conventions that suspend ordinary laws, and for the moment establish new legislation, which alone counts;
  • Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality, as against real life.

[Roger Caillois]

5. To play a game is to engage in activity directed towards bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by rules, where the rules prohibit more efficient in favour of less efficient means, and where such rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity.

  • Activity: as with Abt, Suits emphasizes the activity of playing a game;
  • Voluntary: games are freely entered into;
  • A specific state of affairs: games have a goal;
  • Rules: as in the previous definitions, Suits identifies rules as a component of games;
  • Inefficiency: the rules of games limit behavior, making it less efficient;
  • Rules are accepted: playing a game means accepting the rules.

As insightful as this definition is, it is important to note that Suits does not ultimately offer a definition of game, but a definition of the act of playing a game. In fact, the definitions of Huizinga and Caillois similarly focus on the activity of play rather than on games themselves. However, the next two definitions will bring us closer to the territory of games themselves.

[Bernard Suits]


  • Representation: A game is a closed formal system that subjectively represents a subset of reality. By "closed" I mean that the game is complete and self-sufficient as a structure.The model world created by the game is internally complete; no reference need be made to agents outside of the game. By formal I mean only that the game has explicit rules. A game's a collection of parts which interact with each other, often in complex ways. It is a system. A game creates a subjective and deliberately simplified representation of emotional reality.
  • Interaction: The most fascinating thing about reality is not that it is, or even that it changes, but how it changes, the intricate webwork of cause and effect by which all things are tied together. The only way to properly represent this webwork is to allow the audience to explore its nooks and crannies, to let them generate causes and observe effects. Games provide this interactive element, and it is a crucial factor in their appeal.
  • Conflict: A third element appearing in all games is conflict. Conflict arises naturally from the interaction in a game. The player is actively pursuing some goal. Obstacles prevent him from easily achieving this goal. Conflict is an intrinsic element of all games. It can be direct or indirect, violent or nonviolent, but it is always present in every game.
  • Safety: Conflict implies danger; danger means risk of harm; harm is undesirable. Therefore, a game is an artifice for providing the psychological experiences of conflict and danger while excluding their physical realizations. In short, a game is a safe way to experience reality. More accurately, the results of a game are always less harsh than the situations the game models.

[Chris Crawford]

7. A game is a form of art in which participants, termed players, make decisions in order to manage resources through game tokens in the pursuit of a goal.

  • Art: games are identified as a form of culture;
  • Decision-making players: games require active participation as choices are made;
  • Resource management: player decisions hinge on manipulating resources;
  • Game tokens: the means by which players enact their decisions;
  • Goal: a game has an objective.

[Greg Costikyan]

8. Games are an exercise of voluntary control systems, in which there is a contest between powers, confined by rules in order to produce a disequilibrial outcome.

  • Exercise of control systems: games involve some form of physical or intellectual activity:
  • Voluntary: games are freely entered into;
  • Contest between powers: games embody a conflict between players;
  • Confined by rules: the limiting nature of rules is emphasized;
  • Disequilibrial outcome: the outcome of a game is a goal-state which is different than the starting state of the game.

[Elliot Avedon and Brian Sutton-Smith]

9. Playable theory: every game is a representation of a real-world system; made to explain really complex systems, issues ot challenges in an understandable and simplified way.

[Paolo Pedercini]

Mentioned in: “Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals” by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman.

In a sentence: A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.

Game is learning about reality without the consequences of reality.

See also Play, Leisure, Productive Play


1. The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

2. The process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation. [Websters Dictionary]

Mentioned in: "Gamification as 21-st century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs; "Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, scientific management and the capitalist appropriation of play" by Jennifer Dewinter, Carly A. Kocurek and Randall Nichols.

In context:

Gamification is the process of turning extra-ludic activities into play. I argue that gamification might be seen as a form of ideology and therefore a mechanism of the dominant class to set agenda and to legitimize actions taken by this very class or group.

Gamification is based on similar principles of measurement and observation with a focus on both the reorganization of work and leisure.

In a sentence: Gamification is a way to make any other thing look like a game, therefore it seems like a fun/desirable activity instead of an imposition/exploitation. It is a strategy used to motivate the user/employee/citizen in order to get more/better results/data.

Period: 2003 - present

See also False Consciousness, Capitalism, Ideology, IKEA effect, Productive Play, Anchoring, Entertainment


1. A thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.

2. A natural ability or talent.

3. Give (something) as a gift, especially formally or as a donation or bequest. [Oxford Languages]

4. A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. In many countries, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may sustain social relations and contribute to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy. By extension, the term gift can refer to any item or act of service that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness. Gifts are also first and foremost presented on occasions such as birthdays and holidays. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: texts by Marcel Mauss; George Bataille; "Gamification as 21st-century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs.

In context: "Marcel Mauss ([1923/1924] 1954) believes that a fundamental quality of human interaction must exist outside the rationality of exchange and of monetary interest. Based on ethnological research, he proposed the notion of the gift as an alternative to the rationalist calculation of capitalist exchange ([1923/1924] 1954). Giving away without any expectation for payback allows us to act in a way that is non-alienated and differs considerably from the exchange of commodities with the aim of profit making. George Bataille’s (1975) perspective on economic structure used the concept of the gift developed by Mauss in order to support his affirmation of the possibility of human sovereignty within economic systems. For Bataille, play was one of the conceivable frameworks that foster a type of sacrifice that resembles a gift.

A gamified work process, a gamified consumer service, or a gamified learning experience will always try to keep the customer accumulating points, badges or money. In regard to the gifts offered by gamification apps, there is also a substantial difference to freely giving away (in the sense of Mauss and Bataille) on one hand and the pointsification-oriented incentives on the other hand. Bonuses and badges handed out to increase customer loyalty are the opposite of generous gifts. If gifts, as they are given in environments like Farmville (Zynga 2009), SuperBetter (McGonigal 2012c) or the Starbucks App (Starbucks Coffee Company 2014), only serve to increase the profits of some and the exploitation of others, then they are far from sovereign praxis. (...)

A gift in a gamification context is never ‘le don’ as Mauss conceived it ([1923/1924] 1954). The gamified Homo Ludens is just an advancement of the homo economicus. The former might have a smile on his face, but the smile is a sarcastic one. Mauss’ gift and even more so Bataille’s excessive gift held a promise for the possibility to escape the cage of traditional economic reasoning. Bataille was hoping for a Copernican revolution that turns an economy of scarcity into one of excess: ‘[c]hanging from the perspectives of restrictive economy to those of general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of thinking – and of ethics’ (1991: 25). Bataille identifies the gift, excessive play and sexuality as areas where his ‘general economy’ can already be observed nowadays. The French philosopher thinks of playing games in the wider sense as a nucleus of emancipation." ["Gamification as 21st century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs]

See also Gift Economy, Reciprocity

Gift Economy

1. A gift economy or gift culture is a mode of exchange where valuables are not sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. Social norms and customs govern giving a gift in a gift culture, gifts are not given in an explicit exchange of goods or services for money, or some other commodity or service. This contrasts with a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily explicitly exchanged for value received.

According to anthropologists Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, it is the unsettled relationship between market and non-market exchange that attracts the most attention. Some authors argue that gift economies build community, while markets harm community relationships.

Gift exchange is distinguished from other forms of exchange by a number of principles, such as the form of property rights governing the articles exchanged; whether gifting forms a distinct "sphere of exchange" that can be characterized as an "economic system"; and the character of the social relationship that the gift exchange establishes. Gift ideology in highly commercialized societies differs from the "prestations" typical of non-market societies. Gift economies also differ from related phenomena, such as common property regimes and the exchange of non-commodified labour. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: Marcel Mauss.

See also Gift, Reciprocity

Gold Farming

1. Gold farming is the practice of playing a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) to acquire in-game currency, later selling it for real-world money.

Mentioned in: "Real-World Production in Developing Countries for the Virtual Economies of Online Games" by Richard Heeks;;

In context: Gold farmers make real money in three main ways, listed in what are likely to be decreasing order of activity and earnings:

  • Selling in-game currency: akin to purchasing real-world foreign exchange. The currency is purchased via a web site at a clearly stated real-to-virtual currency exchange rate, with payment typically made via PayPal or credit card. Then the purchaser is messaged and told to "meet" one of the gold farming avatars in-game, and the in-game currency is transferred.
  • Power-levelling: payment is again made via a web site but this time the gold- farming firm is provided with the purchaser's game username and password. Their staff then "play" the purchaser's character in the game, building up its levels (of combat or other skills). Once the character has reached the agreed level, it is handed back to the purchaser.
  • Selling in-game items: the transaction occurs in very much the same way except that an item rather than currency is transferred.


1. In Marxist philosophy, Antonio Gramsci defined cultural hegemony as the ruling class's manipulation of the value system and mores of a society, so that the ruling class perspective is the world view of society; thus, in the relations among the social classes of a society, the term hegemony describes the cultural dominance of a ruling class, which compels the subordination of the other social classes. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: texts by Marx, Gramsci, Hall, Hebdidge.

In a sentence: "Ideas and opinions are not spontaneously 'born' in each individual brain: they have had a centre of the formation, or irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion - a group of men, or a single individual even, which has developed them and presented them in the political form of current reality." [Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks]

See also Counter-hegemony

Hook Model

Hook - Habit - Hobby

1. It's a business model that is used also in videogames to ensure that microtransactions are turned from an occasional event into a rooted habit for gamers. This model functions following different strategies to ensure continuous profiting, like fast thinking processes, gatchas (collectible items), subscriptions, etc.

At its simplest form, the hook model describes how businesses can fundamentally change behaviour within their users, and create day-to-day habits around their products. The heart of the principle is that businesses should always seek to connect a user’s problem to your solution with enough frequency to make it a habit. Through consecutive hook cycles, products reach their ultimate goal of unprompted user engagement, bringing users back repeatedly, without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging. In the context of commodification of games, the habit becomes a real hobby for the gamer that would voluntary invest unlimited resources (⌚ + 💸💸) and energies in gaming.

Mentioned in: The addictive cost of predatory videogames monetization (The Jimquisition) by Jim Sterling;

In context:

The initial hook is fundamental to build an habit, it is an ice-breaker, something that presents itself as an immediately useful and convenient achievement. It's followed by subsequent phases in a cycle:


1. Trigger it can be external like a notification or internal like an association made in the user's memory (like emotions) and it reminds or suggests you to do something.
2. Action is the simplest behaviour provoked by the trigger in anticipation of a reward, or in other words the simplest action that a person can do towards the satisfaction of a little desire.
3. Variable reward a little extra item, often from a lottery or randomly generated, that rewards the action and boosters motivation.
4. Investment, this is the phase in which users are asked to do a bit of work, which turns out in the end to be unpaid labour. Investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immediate gratification. The more users invest time and effort into a product or service, the more they value it.

See also Monetization, Ikea Effect


1. A system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

2. A system of ideas which seem self-evident and 'natural' to those that hold them.

3. The science of ideas; the study of their origin and nature.

Mentioned in: texts by Marx; Gramsci; Barthes; Hall; Hebdidge; Williams.

In context: "Hegemony and Ideology are two concepts that come in social sciences between which a key difference can be identified. In a general sense, hegemony is the dominance of one group or state over another. On the other hand, ideology is a system of ideas forming the basis of an economic or political theory."
"There is an emerging global orthodoxy concerning the relation between society, technology and politics. We have called this orthodoxy `the Californian Ideology'." [The Californian Ideology By Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron (1995)]

In a sentence: "Ideology is disguised in plain sight." [Barthes]

IKEA effect

1. The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. The name refers to Swedish manufacturer and furniture retailer IKEA, which sells many items of furniture that require assembly. [Wikipedia]


Mentioned in: "The 'IKEA Effect': When Labor Leads to Love" by Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely.

In context: IKEA customers can build their own furniture. People can choose colours to customize their own shoes online. Children can design their own cuddly toy. Customers can order their own creations at chocolate manufacturers.

In a sentence: The IKEA effect describes how people tend to value an object more if they make (or assemble) it themselves.

Period: 2011 - present

See also False Consciousness, Capitalism, Ideology, Anchoring, Monetization


1. Lack of efficiency. To do something using more resources than the ones effectively required.

2. A process that involves unnecessary passages.

Mentioned in: “Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals” by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman.

In context: "To play a game is to engage in activity directed towards bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by rules, where the rules prohibit more efficient in favour of less efficient means, and where such rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity" [Suits’ definition of game in “Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals” by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman]. Here inefficiency is something created artificially in order to permit a particular activity.


1. Labour means physical or mental effort or in other words: Work.

2. Work or labour is an intentional activity people perform to support themselves, others, or the needs and wants of a wider community.[1] Alternatively, work can be viewed as the human activity that contributes (along with other factors of production) towards the goods and services within an economy. [Wikipedia]

3. Synonymous with work or toil, is an action which aims to achieve some goal, such as a service, or the production of a good. It is the basis of value in Marxism as well as in the earlier economic writings of David Ricardo. [Leftypedia]

Mentioned in: "Well played" by Vicky Osterweil.


See also Play, Game, Gamification, Productivity

Labour Power

1. The aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces a use-value of any description. It becomes a reality only by its exercise; it sets itself in action only by working. But thereby a definite quantity of human muscle, nerve. brain, &c., is wasted, and these require to be restored.

Mentioned in: "The Capital" by Marx.

In context: Under capitalism, according to Marx, labour-power becomes a commodity – it is sold and bought on the market. A worker tries to sell their labour-power to an employer, in exchange for a wage or salary. If successful (the only alternative being unemployment), this exchange involves submitting to the authority of the capitalist for a specific period of time.


1. Freedom provided by the cessation of activities; especially: time free from work or duties. [Merriam Webster Dictionaries]

2. Leisure scholars typically define their area of study either in comparison to work or else in terms of "leisure industries". Leisure studies focus on several areas of inquiry, although travel research and sports are common themes. For the most part, leisure can be understood in terms of a person’s free time activities and the state of mind that goes with them. So in many ways, leisure is similar to play but infers a slightly larger scope. Play is an activity done in leisure time. Play is a more specific, focused activity while leisure is a more generalized state of mind. Leisure, additionally, is typically used to describe adult recreation. Play, of course, is something that is characterized as a child’s activity. Adult play and its relationship to leisure are a bit more diffuse, however, and the two become rapidly conflated.

Mentioned in: "Play like a Feminist" by Shira Chess.

In context: Leisure is essential to create space for freedom resistance to social structures.

Women's leisure tends towards productivity.

In a sentence: Leisure is leisure until it's not a compulsory activity.

See also Play, Game, Gamification, Productivity

Loot Box

1. In video games, a loot box (also called a loot/prize crate) is a consumable virtual item that can be redeemed to receive a randomised selection of further virtual items, or loot, ranging from simple customization options for a player's avatar or character to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armour. A loot box is typically a form of monetisation, with players either buying the boxes directly or receiving the boxes during play and later buying "keys" with which to redeem them. These systems may also be known as gatcha (based on gashapon – capsule toys) and integrated into gacha games. Loot box concepts originated from loot systems in massively multiplayer online role-playing games, and from the monetisation of free-to-play mobile gaming. They first appeared in 2004 through 2007, and have appeared in many free-to-play games and in some full-priced titles since then. They are seen by developers and publishers of video games not only to help generate ongoing revenue for games while avoiding drawbacks of paid downloadable content or game subscriptions, but to also keep player interest within games by offering new content and cosmetics through loot-box reward systems. Loot boxes were popularised through their inclusion in several games throughout the mid-2010s. By the later half of the decade, some games, particularly Star Wars Battlefront II, expanded approaches to the concept that caused them to become highly criticised. Such criticism included "pay to win" gameplay systems that favor those that spend real money on loot boxes and negative effects on gameplay systems to accommodate them, as well as them being anti-consumer when implemented in full-priced games. Due to fears of them being used as a source in grey-market skin gambling, loot boxes began to become regulated under national gambling laws in various countries at the same time. [Wikipedia]

2. A box containing a prize of unknown value, esp one offered for sale to players as part of an online game. [Collins English Dictionary]

3. Loot boxes are a video game feature involving a sealed mystery "box" - sometimes earned through playing the game and sometimes paid for with real money - which can be opened for a random collection of in-game items such as weapons or cosmetic costumes.

Mentioned in: The addictive cost of predatory videogames monetization (The Jimquisition) by Jim Sterling;

In a sentence: The surprise; the promise; the reward; a horizon; the unknown; the inventory.

See also Addiction, Gift , Gambling


1. A political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), democracy, secularism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and a market economy. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism. Liberalism became a distinct movement in the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among Western philosophers and economists. [Wikipedia]

In context: According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as reported in the Financial Times, 'liberalism has become obsolete'. He claims that the vast majority of people in the world oppose multiculturalism, immigration, and rights for people who are LGBT." [Wikipedia]

In a sentence: Liberalism is an expression of the political reason of The Enlightenment.

See also Capitalism, Communism

Magic Circle

1. Virtual worlds, in games and digital media, the "magic circle" is the space in which the normal rules and reality of the world are suspended and replaced by the artificial reality of a game world.

Mentioned in: text by Johan Huizinga.

In a sentence: In games and digital media, the "magic circle" is the space in which the normal rules and reality of the world are suspended and replaced by the artificial reality of a game world.

See also Game


1. The mainstream is the prevalent current thought that is widespread. It includes all popular culture and media culture, typically disseminated by mass media. This word is sometimes used in a pejorative sense by subcultures who view ostensibly mainstream culture as not only exclusive but artistically and aesthetically inferior. It is to be distinguished from subcultures and countercultures, and at the opposite extreme are cult followings and fringe theories. The labels "mainstream media" and "mass media" are generally applied to print publications (such as newspapers and magazines), radio formats, and television stations that contain the highest audience or have the broadest appeal. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: "Well played" by Vicky Osterweil.

In context: Everything that is seen as normal, that is familiar to the masses and available to the general public is mainstream. An example of mainstream cinema is Hollywood movies.

In a sentence: Media, people, activities, products and ideas that are part of the mainstream are regarded as the most typical, normal, and conventional because they belong to the same group or system as most others of their kind.

See also Pop culture, Mass culture


1. For Marx and Engels, materialism meant that the material world, perceptible to the senses, has objective reality independent of mind or spirit. They did not deny the reality of mental or spiritual processes but affirmed that ideas could arise, therefore, only as products and reflections of material conditions. [Encyclopedia Britannica]

Mentioned in: texts by Marx, Gramsci.

In context: The ideas we have, arise from specific material practices (not the other way around).

See also Capitalism

Master-Servant Dialectic

1. The master–slave dialectic is the common name for a famous passage of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, though the original German phrase, Herrschaft und Knechtschaft, is more properly translated as Lordship and Bondage. It is widely considered a key element in Hegel's philosophical system, and has heavily influenced many subsequent philosophers. The passage describes, in narrative form, the development of self-consciousness as such in an encounter between what are thereby (i.e., emerging only from this encounter) two distinct, self-conscious beings. The essence of the dialectic is the movement or motion of recognizing, in which the two self-consciousnesses are constituted in being each recognized as self-conscious by the other. This movement, inexorably taken to its extreme, takes the form of a "struggle to the death" in which one masters [beherrscht] the other, only to find that such lordship makes the very recognition he had sought impossible, since the bondsman, in this state, is not free to offer it. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: "The Phenomenology of Spirit" by Hegel; "Gamification as 21-st-century ideology" by M. Fuchs.

In context:

"Bataille differs essentially from how Adorno and Benjamin thought about gaming: for Adorno, the ‘repetitiveness of gaming’ is nothing but ‘an after-image of involuntary servitude’ (1984: 401; Adorno, ‘Nachbild von unfreier Arbeit’, 1970: 371), and for Benjamin, the gamer’s actions resemble those of the proletarian worker as they perform what is derived of all meaning: ‘drudgery of the player’ (‘Fron des Spielers’, 1939: 72 -73). Example: "When consuming Farmville playtime, the player remains a ‘Knecht’, and Zynga Corporation continues to be the ‘Herr’. Other than what the ideological message promises, it is not the player who is visited by the cash cow; the player is the cash cow, and he or she delivers monetary benefits to Zynga. The difference from the false statement to the right one is only minimal: Instead of Figure 4’s statement ‘Triple your money in a year!’ it should say ‘Triple our money in a year!’" [Gamification as twenty-first-century ideology by M. Fuchs]

“As Hegel pointed out, the tragedy of the masters is that they cannot escape from dependence on their slaves." [The California Ideology (1995) by Barbrook & Cameron]

In a sentence: Master-slave (two consciousnesses), where the self-consciousness is directed at another that is unequal to itself

When we are gaming for 'free' we are actually the product. When a digital platform offers to organise our life who is the master and who is the slave? Are these examples of the master slave dialectic?


1. A microtransaction is a business model where users can purchase virtual items for small amounts of money. Microtransactions often appear in free-to-play games, meaning there is no cost to download the game, just a cost to buy the online virtual products. [Investopedia]

Mentioned in: "Gamification as 21st-century ideology" by M. Fuchs; Hegel.

See also Loot Box, Monetization


1. Video game modding (short for "modification") is the process of alteration by players or fans of one or more aspects of a video game, such as how it looks or behaves, and is a sub-discipline of general modding. Mods may range from small changes and tweaks to complete overhauls, and can extend the replay value and interest of the game. Modding a game can also be understood as the act of seeking and installing mods to the player's game,[2] but the act of tweaking pre-existing settings and preferences is not truly modding. [Wikipedia]

2. Player-driven modification of a computer game.

Mentioned in: "The Player’s Power to Change the Game" by Anne-Marie Schleiner.

In context: Modders use what developers give them; developers give player the power of customization.

In a sentence: Who is the parasite? Are modders infecting the body of a corporate host, or the corporate is fed by the free labour of players?

See also Counterculture, Counter-gamification, Labour


1. Monetization (also spelled monetisation) is, broadly speaking, the process of converting something into money. Gaming monetization / video games monetization is the type of process that a video game publisher can use to generate revenue from a video game product. The methods of monetization may vary between games, especially when they come from different genres or platforms, but they all serve the same purpose to return money to the game developers, copyright owners, and other stakeholders. As the monetization methods continue to diversify, they also affect the game design in a way that sometimes leads to criticism.

Mentioned in: Creator Matt Mihaly sought other ways to earn revenue, and after offering a few high-quality in-game items for real-world money at an auction, realized a way to make additional revenue. Mihaly programmed into Achaea what is believed to be the first microtransaction, "dual currency" system, where two pools of in-game currency are available, those that are earned in-game, and those that are converted from real-world purchases into the premium currency, which was the only currency that could be used to purchase "virtual goods" in the game.
In the first decade of the century, the game monetization was affected by the booming of the e-commerce, as well as hardware, software and other information technology developments. All kinds of online games and multiplayer games were connected through the faster Internet. The craze of MMORPG by made the subscription model a profitable way to support the game developers. Many browser games became free to play in order to attract more visits. At the early age of smartphones, mobile games were paid to download because there was usually no interface for a smartphone to install a physical copy.

In context: "Video games as a consumer product have changed significantly with the advent of in-game purchasing systems (e.g., microtransactions, ‘loot boxes’)... The analysis revealed that some in-game purchasing systems could be characterized as unfair or exploitative. These systems describe tactics that capitalize on informational advantages (e.g., behavioral tracking) and data manipulation (e.g., price manipulation) to optimize offers to incentivize continuous spending, while offering limited or no guarantees or protections (e.g., refund entitlement), with the potential to exploit vulnerable players (e.g., adolescents, problematic gamers). These findings are critically discussed in relation to behavioral economics, addiction psychology, and the clinical conceptualization of gaming disorder. Appropriate policy and consumer protection measures, psychologically informed interventions, and ethical game design guidelines are needed in order to protect the interests and wellbeing of consumers." [Unfair play? Video games as exploitative monetized services: An examination of game patents from a consumer protection perspective, Daniel L. Kinga,b, Paul H. Delfabbroa, Sally M. Gainsburyc, Michael Dreierd, Nancy Greere, Joël Billieuxf]

Period: 1997 - present; boom in 2000s.

See also Microtransaction, Free-To-Play, Loot Box


1. Bland soft or semi-liquid food such as that suitable for babies or invalids. ("a trayful of tasteless pap").

2. Worthless or trivial reading matter or entertainment. ("limitless channels serving up an undemanding diet of pap").

3. Pap culture is in a certain way trash culture, the sewer of popular culture, yet, the most consumed and produced.

4. Scottish and Northern England dialect. a nipple or teat.

Mentioned in: "Cultural Resistance Reader" by Stephen Duncombe; "Notes on Deconstructing 'The Popular'" by Stuart Hall.

In a sentence:If you describe something such as information, writing, or entertainment as pap, you mean that you consider it to be of no worth, value, or serious interest.


See also Pop Culture


1. In gaming, the term is also used as slang to refer to Internet services that require that users pay to use them. Usually, it refers to MMORPGs, where players must pay to maintain a playing account, as is the case with Eve Online or World of Warcraft. This is in contrast to free-to-play games. Many formerly pay-to-play MMORPGs have switched to a free-to-play model, including EverQuest, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Aion: The Tower of Eternity, and The Lord of the Rings Online. The game RuneScape features both free accounts for no money or pay-to-play accounts, with a much larger list of features. The term may also refer to something like the online game Habbo Hotel, where there are games inside the game, which you may pay-to-play to join into a game whilst it is in progress.

See also Free-To-Play


1. When you play, especially as a child, you spend time doing an enjoyable and/or entertaining activity. [Cambridge Dictionary]

2. Play is a range of intrinsically motivated activities done for recreational pleasure and enjoyment.

3. Play is commonly associated with children and juvenile-level activities, but play occurs at any life stage, and among other higher-functioning animals as well, most notably mammals and birds. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: "Play Like a Feminist" by Shira Chess; "Gamification as 21st-century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs; "Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, scientific management and the capitalist appropriation of play" by Jennifer Dewinter; “Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals” by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman.

In context:

"Play is a free activity standing quite consciously outside 'ordinary' life as being 'not serious', but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings, which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means." ["Homo Ludens" by Johann Huizinga]

"Further, play becomes subservient to work; the very act of codifying play into observable metrics ensures that play loses the power of intrinsic motivation and imagination. The hierarchy of business training games reads thusly: play belongs to games, games belong to algorithms and algorithms represent the intellectual and manual labour processes of high- stakes economics. (...) Play requires imagination and rules. But differently from games, within the rules of play the imagination and rules are plastic, changing to situational exigencies that are defined by actors, culture, materials and ethics." ["Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, scientific management and the capitalist appropriation of play" by Jennifer Dewinter]

"For Bataille, play was one of the conceivable frameworks that foster a type of sacrifice that resembles a gift. The game in a Huizingian (1938) sense of a free activity was therefore interpreted as opposed to alienated work. Gaming and labour would be diametrically opposed, and the ‘sacred’ within play was a source of hope to escape the master-slave dialectic of capital-labour relationships. As Robert Pfaller demonstrates in his article subtitled ‘Bataille reads Huizinga’ (2010), the Bataillian logic is built upon the dialectics of work and play, and one cannot have one without the other. That is why Georges Bataille, with all his sympathies for Huizinga, differs considerably from the Dutch anthropologist when it comes to the implications that follow from the assumptions made in Homo Ludens. The idea that animals can play, for example, is an idea that Bataille cannot share with Huizinga because a playing animal would imply that animals can also work in the sense of engaging in labour processes (Pfaller 2010: 23). No playing animal without a working animal is what Bataille insists on." ["Gamification as 21st-century ideology" by Mathias Fuchs]

In a sentence: Play does not always lead to an end result (as one typically does when “playing a game”); such is the case for ludic activities such as “playing with dolls” or “playing pretend.” At the same time, play is more specific and deliberate than leisure. Leisure is the time one must carve out in order to play more. ["Play like a Feminist" by Shira Chess]

See also Gift, Gamification, Productive Play

Pop Culture

1. Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs, and objects that are dominant or prevalent in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. The primary driving force behind popular culture is mass appeal, and it is produced by what cultural analyst Theodor Adorno refers to as the "culture industry". Heavily influenced in modern times by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of people in a given society. Therefore, popular culture has a way of influencing an individual's attitudes towards certain topics. However, there are various ways to define pop culture. (...) Popular culture in the West has been critiqued for its being a system of commercialism that privileges products selected and mass-marketed by the upper-class capitalist elite. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: Herbert Marcuse; Theodor Adorno; Max Horkheimer; Antonio Gramsci; Guy Debord; Fredric Jameson; Terry Eagleton; Jean-François Lyotard; Jean Baudrillard.

See also Mainstream


1. Liked, enjoyed, or supported by many people.

2. Of cultural activities or products, intended for or suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals. [Oxford Languages]

Mentioned in: texts by Stuart Hall; Theodor Adorno.


1. Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite." A common framework for interpreting populism is known as the ideational approach: this defines populism as an ideology that presents "the people" as a morally good force and contrasts them against "the elite," who are portrayed as corrupt and self-serving. Populists differ in how "the people" are defined, but it can be based along class, ethnic, or national lines. Populists typically present "the elite" as comprising the political, economic, cultural, and media establishment, depicted as a homogeneous entity and accused of placing their own interests, and often the interests of other groups—such as large corporations, foreign countries, or immigrants—above the interests of "the people". [Wikipedia]

In context:

"If you describe a politician or an artist as populist, you mean that they claim to care about the interests and opinions of ordinary people rather than those of a small group." [Wikipedia]

"Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against 'the elite'. A common framework for interpreting populism is known as the ideational approach: this defines populism as an ideology which presents "the people" as a morally good force and contrasts them against "the elite," who are portrayed as corrupt and self-serving. Populists differ in how "the people" are defined, but it can be based along class, ethnic, or national lines. Populists typically present "the elite" as comprising the political, economic, cultural, and media establishment, depicted as a homogeneous entity and accused of placing their own interests, and often the interests of other groups—such as large corporations, foreign countries, or immigrants—above the interests of 'the people'." [Wikipedia]


1. Popular meaning: profitable, economic, efficient (economic sense), producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.

2. Alternative (subversive?) interpretation: fruitful, rich, inspiring, creative; bringing positive emotions/effects on a personal human level (buildings communities, finding allies, embracing radical friendships, creating safe space etc). Example: helping and supporting a friend in need is the opposite of being productive in the economic sense of the word, but it is very valuable, fruitful, enriching and in that sense also productive on a personal level

In context:

"You have to be more efficient to make a profit."

"This was a very fruitful conversation! I am so inspired."

In a sentence: Is it possible to embrace the alternative interpretation of the word productive?

See also Productivity, Productive Play

Productive Play

1. Popular meaning: it looks and feels like playing (a game), but it's actually work. Sometimes you don't realise you are really working, sometimes you are aware of the fact that the work is "masked" as play.

2. Alternative interpretation: as a creative person, you play around with certain materials and tools to experiment and experience a productive process; the state of being inspired.

Mentioned in: "Well Played" by Vicky Osterweil.

In context:

  • Video games are a safe, controlled space of growth, learning, and repetition: a desirable fantasy version of the fractured, precarious, ever-shifting workplaces most of us find ourselves in.
  • Video games, then, are the (highly profitable) media of consolation specific to neoliberalism. They reinforce a vision of a world entirely grounded in competition, and they provide the gratification of experiencing that framework as satisfying, just — we get to win with it, we get to escape through it, we get to experience a sense of mastery even as our lives are even more shaped by larger and larger forces and increasingly unfathomable networks.
  • After-hours labour, masked with enjoyable activities that feel like leisure / also related to self-work (people trying to improve their own capital).

["Well Played" by Vicky Osterweil]

In a sentence:

"Playing games for meaningful social interaction with other individuals."

"What is the difference between productive play and productive game?"

"How is it possible to subvert the capitalist/neoliberal mechanisms of productive play?"

See also Productivity, Play, Gamification


1. The state or quality of being productive.

2. The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. e.g. "workers have boosted productivity by 30%"

3.[ecology] the rate of production of new biomass by an individual, population, or community; the fertility or capacity of a given habitat or area.

4. * Means of production: a concept that encompasses the social use and ownership of the land, labor, and capital needed to produce goods, services, and their logistical distribution and delivery. [Marx & Engels]

  • Productive forces: in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' own critique of political economy, it refers to the combination of the means of labour (tools, machinery, land, infrastructure, and so on) with human labour-power.
  • Mode of production: together with the social and technical relations of production, the productive forces constitute a historically specific mode of production.

Mentioned in: "Selfwork" by Karen Gregory; Marx and Engels.

In context:

“As bodies we are violently torn from the world’s embrace and belatedly return to it as property owners of ourselves,” Ed Cohen writes in A Body Worth Defending. Under this logic — one that sees bodies as “owned” by selves — care becomes entangled with a sense of duty to make the body endlessly productive, an investment capable of yielding returns. Each individual must be a manager of the self and an investor in the body as a capital stock.
This framework helps address the problem of meaningful work that haunted the old capitalism. Meaning is equated with maintaining the body’s productivity, as Taylor had hoped, fusing the elusive goal of self-esteem to measurable output. Only what it is measured is not work productivity directly but a more general potential capability for discipline and accomplishment, captured through the proxy of the body’s fitness." ["Selfwork" by Karen Gregory; Kirsty Hendry; Jake Watts; Dave Young; 2017]

See also Productive, Productive Play, Capitalism, Base & Superstructure


1. In cultural anthropology, reciprocity refers to the non-market exchange of goods or labour ranging from direct barter (immediate exchange) to forms of gift exchange where a return is eventually expected (delayed exchange) as in the exchange of birthday gifts. It is thus distinct from the true gift, where no return is expected. When the exchange is immediate, as in barter, it does not create a social relationship. When the exchange is delayed, it creates both a relationship as well as an obligation for a return (i.e. debt). Hence, some forms of reciprocity can establish hierarchy if the debt is not repaid. The failure to make a return may end a relationship between equals. (...) Some forms of reciprocity are thus closely related to redistribution, where goods and services are collected by a central figure for eventual distribution to followers. [Wikipedia]

Mentioned in: text by Marcel Mauss.

See Also Gift, Gift Economy


1. (Sociology) The transfer of responsibility from higher authorities to communities or individuals who are then called on to take an active role in resolving their own problems.

Mentioned in: The Addictive Cost of Predatory Videogames Monetization (The Jimquisition) by Jim Sterling

In context: When a user chooses between 3 boxes you don't know the content of in a videogame (e.g. Mario Bros) and the game gives them the responsibility of their choice. They actually didn't choose anything. What the player will get is already decided but if the player is not happy with it, it's just their fault!


1. Self-work is any action you take towards self-improvement.

Mentioned in: "Selfwork" by Karen Gregory; Kirsty Hendry; Jake Watts; Dave Young.

In context:

"As the factory walls of the old capitalism have dissolved into the networks and virtual spaces of the “new economy,” the distinctions between work time, workspace, and domestic space have blurred. Under what sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello have called the “new spirit of capitalism,” technological advances in logistics have made “lean,” “just-in-time” production possible, which demands of workers more flexibility and risk management. This demand was sold to workers as an offer of more freedom and more meaningful work, performed on their own terms, addressing what Boltanski and Chiapello described as the “artistic critique” of the old capitalism, which attacked its tendency to standardize goods and human beings alike."

"Workers are invited to seemingly measure themselves, and use the data for their own personal betterment. This calls for a different form of measuring that can assess the worker’s body as valuable property."

"Wearable technologies bring Taylorism together with the “spirit” of new capitalism, putting them both in direct contact with our bodies. They let us measure our progress while synchronizing and standardizing our self-work with the demands of waged labour. By using fitness-tracking apps and wearables, the quantification and efficiency fetishes of Taylorism become the logic by which we understand our body’s movement. In individualizing the act of self-care as self-work, apps push targets, notifications, and nudges onto the user throughout the day as prompts aimed to encourage more activity and, subsequently, more data."

"Both artistic labour and physical exercise are heralded as ways to know oneself, and both are often reduced to matters of quantifiable information production. They both hinge on incentives that seek to extract free work under the auspices of “investing in one’s own human capital.” Accordingly, both are affected by society’s intensifying entrepreneurial rhetoric and its erosions of the boundaries around work: incentives to self-quantify couched in “do what you love” rhetoric."

See also Anxiety, Productive Play, Gamification, Taylorism


1. The principles or practice of scientific management and work efficiency as practised in a system known as the Taylor System. A factory management system developed in the late 19th century to increase efficiency by evaluating every step in a manufacturing process and breaking down production into specialized repetitive tasks. Scientific management is sometimes known as Taylorism after its pioneer, Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor began the theory's development in the United States within manufacturing industries, especially steel.

Mentioned in: "Selfwork" by Karen Gregory; Kirsty Hendry; Jake Watts; Dave Young.

In a sentence: A mechanism to increase productivity by checking/calculating every detail, even the workers' movements.

Period: the 1880s and 1890s - present

See also False Consciousness, Self-work, Gamification


1. Lived time; experienced time.

Mentioned in: "Play Like a Feminist" by Shira Chess.

In context: With the word "temporalities", I am invoking Sarah Sharma’s use from her book In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics. Sharma’s use of “temporalities” is meant to evoke “lived time,” which is intended as a response to the “differential economy” that shapes time for groups and individuals. ["Play Like a Feminist" by Shira Chess]

See also Gamification, Productive Play


1. An object for children to play with: an object that is used by an adult for pleasure rather than for serious use. [Cambridge Dictionary]

2. A toy is an item that is used primarily by children though may also be marketed to adults under certain circumstances. Playing with toys can be an enjoyable means of training young children for life experiences. Different materials like wood, clay, paper, and plastic are used to make toys. Many items are designed to serve as toys, but goods produced for other purposes can also be used. For instance, a small child may fold an ordinary piece of paper into an aeroplane shape and "fly it." Newer forms of toys include interactive digital entertainment and smart toys. Some toys are produced primarily as collectors' items and are intended for display only. [Wikipedia]

In context:

"Role-playing games are not the only kind of play activity that exists on the border of our definition. A computer program like Sim City does not have explicit goals, and in that way is more like a toy than a game. However, as its designer Will Wright has often stated, players can turn it into a game by constructing their own goals. Does this make Sim City an informal play activity or a formalized game? It all depends on how it is framed." [Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman]

See also Play


About Games

“Roblox Pressured Us to Delete Our Video. So We Dug Deeper” :

“Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals” by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman

Blurrying the lines between labour and play: gamification and playbour

“Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, scientific management and the capitalist appropriation of play” by Jennifer Dewinter, Carly A. Kocurek and Randall Nichols

“Gamification as twenty-first-century ideology” by Mathias Fuchs

“Selfwork” by Karen Gregory, Kirsty Hendry, Jake Watts and Dave Young at

“Well Played” by Vicky Osterweil:

Ideology, Old and New

Marx and Engels - The Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas

Gramsci - Selections from the Prison Notebooks

Hebdidge - Subculture: The Meaning of Style

Games as reproductive technologies and Predatory monetization schemes

The base-superstructure model, Adorno and Horkheimer’s critique of the cultural industry, Stuart Hall’s deconstruction of the popular, “Turning players into payers”, in-game advertising, microtransactions, loot boxes, downloadable content, NFTs, etc.

“Notes on Deconstructing ‘The Popular’” by Stuart Hall

“The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization (The Jimquisition)”:

“Predatory monetization schemes in video games (e.g. ‘loot boxes’) and internet gaming disorder”, by Daniel L. King and Paul H. Delfabbro at

“Super Mario Bros. 3: Pick a box; its contents will deceive you?”:

“The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” from Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer

“Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory” by Raymond Williams

“Encoding, Decoding” by Stuart Hall

“Digital play: the interaction of technology, culture, and marketing” by Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Greig de Peuter

“We Are All Very Anxious” by the Institute for Precarious Consciousness

Modding and fan culture: ambivalence between incorporated prosumerism and tactical media

“The Player’s Power to Change the Game” by Anne-Marie Schleiner

“The Legends of Zelda: Fan Challenges to Dominant Video Game Narratives” by Kathryn Hemmann in Woke Gaming

“The Modern Age” in Edge Magazine #126 “The mod scene: What happens when gamers build games?”

Videogames as a possible arena for contesting feminist leisure

“Play Like a Feminist” by Shira Chess

“Wages Against Housework” (1974) by Silvia Federici

“Black/Female/Body Hypervisibility and Invisibility: A Black Feminist Augmentation of Feminist Leisure Research” by Rasul A. Mowatt, Bryana H. French and Dominique A. Malebranche

“Feminist game environment” by Natacha Roussel