Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Cards Against Gamification


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Cards Against Gamification: Using a role-playing game to tell alternative futures in the gig economy

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/09/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>The Sociological Review
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)1058-1074
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date16/07/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The discussions on the future of work are pulled between technological optimism and the increasing concerns regarding the precarity brought about by the gig economy. Often, these scenarios fail to meaningfully engage and account for the workers’ experiences, whose agency in effectively shaping their working future is denied and obscured behind discourses of autonomy, entrepreneurship and individual responsibility. In the context of the increased use of gamification strategies by platforms to both monitor and incentivise couriers, this article examines the capacity of playful methods to act as effective forms of engagement and mobilisation amongst gig workers. A workshop with this aim was run online in April 2021, at the end of the third Covid lockdown in the UK, using a role-playing card game with food couriers in Manchester. It drew on ethnographic data to explore how to support empathy and solidarity amongst couriers, how to facilitate the creation of a shared pool of knowledge about the job and how to reconfigure other stakeholders’ roles to improve working conditions. We finally offer some ideas to take the game beyond the workshop space suggesting several pathways for the future: a face-to-face game using printed cards, an open-source version of the game and collaborating with trade unions to reach more couriers.