Abstract: We challenge the idea of the paradoxical nature of the concept serious games and ask how researchers and designers need to conceive of serious games so that they at all appear paradoxical. To develop and answer this question, we draw on a theory–method that considers all forms of observation as paradoxical. We then use the tetralemma, a structure from traditional Indian logics, to resolve the paradox of serious games into this larger paradox of observation. Consequently, serious games may only be considered a paradox if we presume realities and define games as deviations therefrom. The increasing gamification of society, however, does not allow realities to be defined in contrast to games anymore. We therefore conclude that serious games do not rep- resent particularly paradoxical forms of games, but rather next levels of reflexivity in communication design and in the self-definitions of next societies.
Keywords: serious games, communication design, paradox, oxymoron, tetralemma, form theory
Roth, S. (2017), Serious gamification. On the redesign of a popular paradox, Games and Culture, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 100-111 [SSCI .490]. Online first on April 16, 2015.