Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, scientific management and the capitalist appropriation of play | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-191X
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1928



By making work seem more like leisure time, gamification and corporate training games serve as a mechanism for solving a range of problems and, significantly, of increasing productivity. This piece examines the implications of gamification as a means of productivity gains that extend Frederick Winslow Taylor’s principles of scientific management, or Taylorism. Relying on measurement and observation as a mechanism to collapse the domains of labour and leisure for the benefit of businesses (rather than for the benefit or fulfilment of workers), gamification potentially subjugates all time into productive time, even as business leaders use games to mask all labour as something to be enjoyed. In so doing, this study argues, the agency of individuals – whether worker or player – becomes subject to the rationalized nature of production. This rationalization changes the nature of play, making it a duty rather than a choice, a routine rather than a process of exploration. Taken too far or used unthinkingly, it renders Huizinga’s magic circle into one more regulated office cubicle.


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