Gamification is Making Us Less Thoughtful; Are Gamejams a Testbed for the Cure?
Players master video games by making slight progressive changes to their actions, over time. This is also how humans master new skills in the real world. In both cases, we start with slow and deliberate performance, with conscious and thoughtful reflection. Then the skills become pre-attentive: either predictive reactions based on high-speed pattern recognition, or bursts of incredibly fast, previously-learned coordinated reflexes called muscle memory. After the right kind of reinforcement, these conditioned responses can be triggered unconsciously. When someone's pre-attentive and reflexive skills are repeatedly triggered unconsciously, they enter a state of performance called Flow. There, distractions disappear and mastery of multiple overlapping skills is developed. As in real life, time spent in »gameflow« changes the player's mind and brain. Application-specific gamification has been used to condition and reinforce pre-attentive behaviours that make people a more efficient resource for military, political, and commercial interests. Gamejams could become the testing ground for games that develop unconscious skills that will help players level up in the real world.