Improving awareness of issues at the intersection of ‘gamification’ and ‘financialisation’

Dr Martin Zeilinger, Abertay University
RSE Research Network awardee

‘Gamification’—the practice of adding game mechanics to non-game environments—and ‘financialisation’—the introduction of financial processes into non-finance contexts—are commonplace in today’s digital culture, for example, in the playful interfaces of online banking apps and, in the casual games that simulate wealth accumulation.

Dr Martin Zeilinger
Dr Martin Zeilinger. Photo Credit: Miha Fras/Aksioma

Dr Martin Zeilinger, Senior Lecturer in Computational Arts & Technology at Abertay University, received an RSE Research Network award to investigate the rapidly advancing, poorly understood convergence of gamification and financialisation, and to examine its cultural and socio-economic impacts as well as ethical implications. Specifically, he has identified an urgent need to better understand how the connection of these practices impacts popular attitudes towards finance, healthy money habits, and perceptions of the concept of play.

Problematically, much of the activity at the intersection of gamification and financialisation occurs in a regulatory vacuum. Through collaborations, workshops, and “live action role play” (LARP)—a form of role-playing game that harnesses the power of play to help everyday users develop sensible and sustainable ‘finance literacy’—Dr Zeilinger’s research aims to provide the foundations for developing guidelines, best practices, and regulatory advice concerning the fair, equitable, and ethical integration of gamification and financialisation for the creative industries and financial services sectors.

Financialisation is becoming increasingly common in video gaming

Currently, Dr Zeilinger is developing the LARP scenario with students and colleagues at Abertay University, the University of Dundee and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. The team will also engage an interdisciplinary and international group of specialists, including game designers, political economists, activists, and artists.

Dr Zeilinger commented,

The RSE Research Network award has provided the opportunity to reach out to researchers, technologists, and industry stakeholders from a diverse range of disciplines and locations, including the UK, Brazil, Canada, Germany, and Finland. The workshops that have been enabled by this award are providing an ideal environment for insightful critical dialogues across different sectors that are not often in contact, but that can learn a lot from one another. Without this RSE award, we would not have had the capacity to facilitate this network.”

The team plan to playtest the resulting prototype internationally at an event in Austria on the theme of the digital commons.

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