The politics of gamification: Education, neoliberalism and the knowledge economy

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that practices of gamification in educational settings must be situated in the context of neoliberal understandings of labour and knowledge in a post-industrial economy. Gamification is conventionally positioned as a creative, fun, and politically neutral pedagogic technique that can improve student retention and engagement with course material. This article, however, argues that such common framings of gamification ignore the attendant neoliberal logics of compelling students into learning systems that are rhetorically glossed as “empowering”. For this reason, gamification’s claims to bolster student choice obscure the asymmetric power relations being mobilized in contemporary twenty-first century education rhetoric and policy. We argue that to properly understand gamification, and its impact, the political dimensions of the practice must be acknowledged. The article demonstrates how gamification has built upon and refined the logics of its precursor game-based learning in order to align with a pedagogic and economic valorization of student-centred learning as key to equipping students with the skills to compete in a global knowledge economy ostensibly premised on flexible, creative, and autonomous forms of labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-226
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2018


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