First Brown Bag of the Semester – August 30, 2013

Edward Castronova, Professor of Telecommunications, Indiana University Bloomington


I’ll review the gamification phenomenon in a critical way, explaining its major premises and strategies and then explaining why gamified artifacts (including my own) generally fail. I’ll show some examples of the best gamification pieces. I’ll then talk about gamifying the college classroom and, again, my own failures in that regard. I’ll then suggest new approaches to using the insights of games to renovate old behavioral problems. The focus is on strategic literacy, an area that education has completely overlooked.


Edward Castronova wonders why vanilla ice cream is even produced in a world that knows chocolate. He is a Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University and holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Castronova specializes in the study of games, technology, and society. Notable works include Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games (Chicago, 2005), Exodus to the Virtual World (Palgrave), Virtual Economies: Analysis and Design (with Vili Lehdonvirta, MIT, in press), and Wildcat Currency: The Virtual Transformation of the Economy (Yale, in press). Castronova was born as Edward Bird in 1962, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1995, and took his wife’s name on marrying in 2000. He has two sons, two god-children and a beagle named Tilly. Castronova thinks God is a game designer: Get to Heaven for the win.

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