Don't listen to the announcer; check the stats.
#3084 Created 01/29/2012 Updated 10/09/2014
The world of books about gamification turns out to be a game itself. They are all the same book, each with its own little "chart" of what makes a "game".
The best chart fudgie so far was the "black box" (Game Frame, Aaron Dignan, Free Press, 2011), where the game rules reside; it's Horace's ultimate "deus ex machina". You got all this other stuff (resources, profiles, story line, anxiety, flow, badges, scoring, game goods, itching powder, etc.) and, oh yeah, the "rules." Forgot to tell you the Magic Wand doesn't work unless you have the Itching Powder. Really -- it's in the rules!
I'm postulating that there is a great degree of convergence / linkage between the 'rules' and the game mechanics, and one can be used to deduce the other: if there's a Magic Wand, therefore there is Magic, and the Magic Wand does some Magic by 'Wanding'. Therefore, real-world games may be de-constructible from their mechanics to deduce the rules.
That deconstruction occurs without regard to the game content! The exclamation point means 'ignore content' when examining a game: content is the clothing that dresses the game mechanics (re. Zynga + the ville engine + the word "Farm"). Those aren't real cows, eh?
Yes, the game is played WITH content, but the game is not ABOUT the content. So, looking at the current game of politics, involving politicians and politicos and commentators and news networks and candidates, etc., you examine the game sans the message content, but with attention to the 'transaction analysis' of the players vis-a-vis the media and "black box" (the rules).
It's about power and money, not message, not content. It'll turn out, I bet, that there is a very close correspondence between media minutes (or some measure) and intensity of public attitudes (with a much less reliable correspondence between media message and content of public attitudes). Public opinion comes from media, indirectly, not in content, but in awareness and exposure. Reflective analysis of legislation, for example, reveals the interests of the legislators, merely by measuring the winners and losers afterwards.