Games as (Not) Culture: A Critical Policy Analysis of the Economic Agenda...

Games as (Not) Culture: A Critical Policy Analysis of the Economic Agenda of Horizon 2020


DER member Carlo Perrotta with colleagues from the UK, the Netherlands and Italy have a new article in Games and Culture – a critical examination of “gamification” and the problematic role of of ed-tech research in turning it into a policy priority in Europe.


This article presents a critical examination of European policy in relation to gamification. We begin by describing how gamification “traveled” as an idea, evolving from controversial yet persuasive buzzword to legitimate policy priority. We then focus on how gamification was represented in Horizon 2020: the flagship European Research & Development program from 2014 to 2020, worth nearly €80 billion of funding. The article argues that the ethically problematic aspects of gamification were removed through a process of policy capture that involved its assimilation in an established European network of research and small and medium enterprise (SME) actors. This process of “ethical neutering” is also observable in the actual funding calls, where the problematic assumptions of gamification around agency and manipulation are made invisible through a superficial commitment to vague and ill-defined criteria of responsible research and innovation.

Perrotta, C., Bailey, C. J, Ryder, J., Persico, D., & Haggis, M. (2019). Games as (not) culture: a critical policy analysis of the economic agenda of Horizon 2020. Games and Culture. first published online: June 20, 2019