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Mimicking Gamers: Understanding Gamification Through Roger Caillois

Vincenzo Idone Cassone

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The recent rise of gamification lead to a revival of the traditional game studies debate on the relationship between games and society, a key theme since Huizinga, Caillois, and Suits. Yet quite surprisingly, the works of these three authors, Caillois in particular, have mainly been used to establish notable antecedents, not been reevaluated nor discussed. The following pages will first explain the reasons behind these overlooking, taking advantage of the gamification debate to compare the actual theories on the relationship between games and society, subsequently recalling Caillois’ position, pointing out analogies and differences between the present and past stances. Secondly, this article will discuss the reasons to introduce the thought of Caillois in the current debate, showing compatibility between his theories and contemporary reflections, suggesting the possibility to use them to understand gamification, by observing the long-term analogies between games and societies and the role performed by mimicry.