Natasha Lushetich

Was 1968’s legacy of ludic practices a fetish needed to animate the dream of a socio-political gesture capable of inaugurating long-lasting freedom? If so, how does this gesture compare to the double bind specific of gamified capitalism: enslavement through (negative) freedom? Unlike positive freedom, which foregrounds the pre-existing conditions, rules, and actors, negative freedom advocates the removal of obstacles and the throwing off of restraints. For the proponents of negative freedom, positive freedom is patronising because it depicts the social world as a non-level playing field with few possible moves. Contemporary ludification is an extension of this thinking. It creates the illusion of ‘fair play’ amidst (automated) neoliberal oppression. Drawing parallels between AR games, ludic apps, and playbour, this chapter brings La Boétie’s notion of voluntary servitude in dialogue with ludic matrices that condition actions through easification, looping, nudging, the ‘grinding dynamics’ and pre-established rule-goal-feedback grids characteristic of digital ludicity.

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