Games to Live With. Speculations Regarding NikeFuel
Author(s): Ruffino, Paolo
In this paper I offer an alternative way to look at games that require no form of play. The player of these games is only supposed to keep them always up-to-date and running, but no specific action is required. NikeFuel is a significant example of this kind of game. NikeFuel, a technology for the quantification of body movement developed by the sports company Nike, is applied in a series of gadgets. The most popular, Nike+, is a wristband that quantifies the movements of the user and converts them into a NikeFuel score, which can later be visualised on a laptop or mobile phone. The act of moving throughout the day is transformed into a game-like experience, according to the principles of gamification. Gamification and quantified-self technologies have been noted for their performative potential and their capacity to control and inform our bodies (Whitson 2015). From a Foucauldian perspective, quantified-self technologies are attempts to rationalise the practices and movements of living organisms, as forms of biopolitical control (Foucault 2005, Schrape 2014). However, these are also spaces of transformation of the conditions under which the self becomes possible. Through NikeFuel, and other examples that I explore in this paper (Farmville, Cookie Clicker, CarnageHug), the player has to come to terms with games that act as parasites on their own lives. Thus, I argue that Nike+ can also be seen to complicate our thoughts about the contemporary digital technologies that surround us on an everyday basis. In this paper I will argue, possibly counter-intuitively, that gamification and quantified-self technologies are not necessarily tools that we use for a specific purpose; these are technologies we carry around with us and live with. As such, we are transformed by them as much as we transform them. Thus, the problem raised in this paper is about how we can co-habit and be hospitable with these “parasites” (Serres 1982).
Ruffino, Paolo: Games to Live With. Speculations Regarding NikeFuel. In: Digital Culture & Society, Jg. 2 (2016), Nr. 1, S. 153–159. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/912.
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