CfP: The Gamification of Work (Nov 20, 15), Paris

In the academic world, today we see an increasing interest in the relations between work and game. These research are not exclusively turned to the study of serious games but consider the transfer of games elements in workplaces.

The Gamification of Work

Modalities, effects, functions and limits of the shift from game to work

PARIS, 20th November 2015

Cerlis (CNRS, Université Paris Descartes, Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle) – LabSic (Université Paris 13) – IIAC LAHIC (CNRS, EHESS) – Lise (CNAM) – GIS Jeu et société


Gradually, a growing interest in scientific fields for the “ludification” that we will define as the extension of playful modalities to other areas than games (Picard, 2009; Bonenfant et Genvo, 2014) was observed. This interest is also turned to the “gamification” that we will define as “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding and al., 2011). The distinction between these two concepts may correspond to the distinction between the play and the game (a distinction that doesn’t exist In French, for example) or between “the paidia and the ludus” (Caillois 1967).

The playful attitude or experience and the game as a structure will be frequently opposed. Four elements are supposed to structure the gamification process: a goal, rules, feedback system and voluntary participation (Mc Gonigal, 2011). The gamification’s scopes of application seem to be manifold: research, education, marketing, human resources, communication actions… which obey the principles of scores, levels, rewards, challenges, etc.

Until now, gamification, in its relation to work and, more specifically the uses of games by management, still remains open to investigation. Sociologists of work have studied games in workplaces as a distraction against boredom or sameness (Roy, 1960, Burawoy, 1979). They have also studied games as ways or tools to maintain workers watchfulness at work. However, we may consider that there is a lack of research about both the social sense and the organizational sense that could be linked to the importation by managers of game structures towards work structures. Today these research seem to be isolated. Kapplas, playing cards, Legos, business theater, roleplaying, carrousels, challenges and other competitions are, today, employed in companies. We know the phenomenon of serious games is becoming an increasing part of the uses of the games in big companies (Allal, Cherif, Makhlouf, 2015). However, the great interest of researchers for serious games should not overshadow the numerous other forms and modalities of games which are used in companies.

Games and work, as it has often been underlined, have long been brought into opposition. They were supposed, in the West, to be opposite activities, spaces and times. Therefore, we may question which elements are selected from games (principles and actions) to be imported into work. We could also question the processes of “reinterpretation” of games elements being put in workplaces and the processes of reinterpretation of work elements when included in these games.

Submitted communications could analyze these processes of reinterpretation especially as we know – thanks to social anthropology (Bastide, 1971) and social psychology (Moscovici, 1961) – that the selected elements, coming from a social context and imported to another, are most integrated when their shapes are closed or assimilated to pre-existing contents.

  • Questions:

In this conference, we would like to put into debate the concept of gamification in professional contexts. What is gamification of work? What are its principal modalities? What are the elements of its structure that could be duplicated (as games are supposed to have a structure)? What is imported from game as shapes, functions emotions and feelings that could operate in work and its organization ? Is gamification only a “pointification” (Robertson, 2010)? Or does gamification aggregate playful principles to work processes, other than points or gains?

  1. Modalities of games in companies will be studied: challenges, simulation games, team games, etc. The aims of the game (recruitment, evaluation, commercial actions, mutual understanding etc.), the types of the games (role playing, games through interfaces, kapplas, competitions…) and the kind of populations mobilized for these games (as we suppose that hierarchies and professional categories are not invited to play at the same games) will be cross referenced.
  2. The expected functions of these games by those who decide to use them in workplaces but also by those who play will also be studied: these expectations may be specific such as achieving goals as motivation, experimenting, mutual understanding, mutual knowledge, training and so on. To this, we could also add “organizing” functions as norms transmission, behavior regulations, the trivialization of managerial practices by the properties of games.
  3. At last, the question of the fictional frame inherent to games (Bateson, 1977 but also Henriot, 1989) will be central to the understanding of the shift between “real situations” (which games refer to) to “game situations” (fictional). What does this shift allow? In fact, our question could be: which “organization of experience” (Goffman, 1974) is ours when playful  denotations are combined with a professional context?

These three aspects do not claim to cover the diversity of questions we intend to explore. The scientific committee will consider any proposition that relates widely to one of these three parts. Empirical studies are encouraged for this conference as are historical viewpoints about games in companies.

Sociology, social anthropology, communication sciences, management studies, history and education sciences should bring interesting perspectives to the debate.

  • How to submit?

Proposals of contributions (3.000 to 5.000 characters) must be received by 20th of June (before midnight CET) and sent by email to:



  • Scientific committee

Yanita Andonova (Université Paris 13, LabSic)

Gilles Brougère (Université Paris 13, Experice)

Marie-Anne Dujarier (Université Paris 3, CNAM-Lise)

Pierre Lénel (CNAM, Lise)

Anne Monjaret (CNRS -EHESS – IIAC-LAHIC)

Emmanuelle Savignac (Université Paris 3, CERLIS)

Aude Seurrat (Université Paris 13, LabSic)

Thierry Wendling (CNRS -EHESS – IIAC-LAHIC)


  • Organization committee

Yanita Andonova (Université Paris 13, LabSic)

Pierre Lénel (CNAM, Lise)

Anne Monjaret (CNRS -EHESS – IIAC-LAHIC)

Emmanuelle Savignac (Université Paris 3, CERLIS)

Aude Seurrat (Université Paris 13, LabSic)




  • Bibliography elements

Allal-Chérif O., Makhlouf M. (2015). “Serious Games and Their Use in HRM: A Typology of Uses in CAC40 Companies”, HICSS International Conference on System Sciences, Kauai, Hawaii, USA, January 5-8.

Bastide, R. (1971). Anthropologie appliquée, Paris, Payot.

Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology, University Of Chicago Press.

Bonenfant, M., Genvo, S. (2014). «Une approche située et critique du concept de gamification», Sciences du jeu [En ligne], Questionner les mises en forme ludiques du web : gamification, ludification et ludicisation, mis \E0 jour le : 24/10/2014, URL :http://www.sciencesdujeu.org/index.php?id=7277.

Brody, A., Roucous, N. (2013). “Le paradoxe des serious games: des jeux sans joueurs?”, in Berry V. & Seurrat A. dir. à paraître.

Burawoy, M. (1979). Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process Under Monopoly Capitalism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Burawoy, M. (2008). “Le process de production comme jeu”, Tracés, 14, pp.197‐219.

Caillois, Roger (1967). Les jeux et les hommes, Gallimard, Paris.

Dessors D. ([1991] 2009). « L’intelligence pratique », Travailler, 21, 61‐68.

Deterding S., Dixon D., Khaled R., & Lennart N. (2011). « From Game Design Elements to Gamefulness: Defining “Gamification” », MindTrek’11, pp. 9‐15.

Goffman, Erving, (1974). Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.

Henriot, J. (1989). Sous couleur de jouer. La métaphore ludique, José Corti, Paris.

Le Lay, S., Rolo, D. (2014). « Les pratiques ludiques au travail : un monde comme si ou comme ci ? », communication au colloque Travail et Loisirs, Celsa, Paris, juin 2014.

McGonigal Jane (2011), Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin books, NY.

Moscovici, S. (1961). La psychanalyse, son image et son public, Paris, PUF.

Picard M. (2009), « Les influences mutuelles du cinéma et du jeu vidéo », Entretien pour parolecitoyenne.org, en ligne : http://parolecitoyenne.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cinema-et-jeu-video-m-picard.pdf

Robertson, M. (2010). Can’t play, won’t play. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://hideandseek.net/2010/10/06/cant-play-wont-play/



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