After an introduction to gamification and having read many of the definitions, I started analysing this concept more critically and in depth and to do so I found a series of research papers on the e-library portal of the UAL (I’ve been honestly pleasantly surprise by the amount of papers available there). One of the most influential and interesting researcher in this field is Sebastian Deterding, he wrote a great number of articles about the subject of gamification and they all are very clear and engaging.
In its The Ambiguity of Games: Histories and Discourses of a Gameful World, he not only gives an extended overview of gamification and its context throughout the history, but explains also the different conceptions on it, its uses and misuses and cites many of the main gamification theorists and practioners.
So far, I read only this paper and a couple more, but I managed to download bunch of its papers, most of those speak about gamification in a critical way. Very interesting seems to be “From game design elements to gamefulness: defining “gamification”, for example. Here I reported the abstract available online.
Recent years have seen a rapid proliferation of mass-market consumer software that takes inspiration from video games. Usually summarized as “gamification”, this trend connects to a sizeable body of existing concepts and research in human-computer interaction and game studies, such as serious games, pervasive games, alternate reality games, or playful design. However, it is not clear how “gamification” relates to these, whether it denotes a novel phenomenon, and how to define it. Thus, in this paper we investigate “gamification” and the historical origins of the term in relation to precursors and similar concepts. It is suggested that “gamified” applications provide insight into novel, gameful phenomena complementary to playful phenomena. Based on our research, we propose a definition of “gamification” as the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.