Article Information


Natalya Kolesnik (

Sociological Institute of the RAS — Branch of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SI RAS — FCTAS RAS), Saint Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Kolesnik N. (2021) Izbiratel'nyye kampanii i grazhdanskiy aktivizm v usloviyakh tsifrovoy geymifikatsii [Election campaigns and civil activism in conditions of digital gamification]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 24(3): 144–168 (in Russian).

Abstract. The article discusses the impact of the process of digitalization and gamification on political institutions. In particular, using the example of election campaigns, the penetration of elements of game mechanics is analyzed, when, starting from the procedure of registering candidates and ending with the counting of votes, not only the candidate for deputy, but also the voters themselves, are in the status of players. The purpose of this work is to show the mutual influence of digital gamification and the political process (on the example of election campaigns) and how the game elements are refracted in political practices. Gamification and traces of "game mechanics" in an explicit and latent form in election campaigns are the subject of this study and they allow us: 1) to understand the technology of penetration of game practices into politics, 2) to determine the contours of policy changes under the influence of the game, 3) to identify the main elements of game mechanics (objects, characters, situations, rules of a game), 4) to define new zones in politics, agents that were not previously mediated by game mechanics and digital technologies. To assess the scale of gamification and its variable consequences, the study considered several cases which were selected based on the maximum contrast (the case of Russian, American and European election campaigns).

Keywords: politics, digitalization, gamification, election campaign, elections, civil activism, media, political communications.


Barash R.E. (2015) Informatsionnyye i kommunikatsionnyye faktory samoorganizatsii rossiyan [Information and Communication factors of self-organization of Russians]. Vlast' [Power], 1: 101–109 (in Russia).

Bogost I. (2006) Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bolshakov S.V., Lanin V.G., Meshkov P.Y., Panarin I.N. (2002) Internet i vybory [Internet and elections] Moscow: RTSOIT (in Russian).

Bykov I.A. (2010) Internet-tekhnologii v izbiratel'noy kampanii Baraka Obamy. [Internet technologies in the election campaign of Barack Obama]. Vestnik Permskogo universiteta. Politologiya. [Bulletin of Perm University. Political science], 1(9): 48–58 (in Russian).

Bennett W.L, Iyengar S. (2008) A new era of minimal effects? The changing foundations of political communication. Journal of Communication, 58(4): 707–731.

Bunz M. (2019) On participatory politics as a game changer and the politics of participation. In: The playful citizen. Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Crawford C. (1982) The art of computer game design [ ]

Frasca G. (2003) Simulation Versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology. The Video game Theory Reader, 2: 221–236.

Jacobs R.S. (2016) Play to win over: Effects of persuasive games. In: Psychology of popular media culture [ ] (accessed: 14.05.2020).

Gekker A. (2019) Playing with power: Casual politicking a new frame for political analysis. In: The playful citizen. Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press: 377–419.

Hoskins B., Villalba C., Saisana M. (2012) The 2011 Civic Competence Composite Indicator (CCCI–2). Measuring Young People’s Civic Competence across Europe based on the IEA International Citizenship and Civic Education study. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Kahne J., Middaugh E., Evans C. (2009) The civic potential of video games. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Kligler-Vilenchik N., Shresthova S. (2012) Learning through practice: Participatory culture civics. MacArthur Foundation [ ] (accessed: 23.09.2020).

Levine P., Lopez H.M. (2002) Youth voter turnout has declined, by any measure. Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement [ ] (accessed: 23.09.2020).

Lopez H.M., Donovan C. (2002) Youth and adult voter turnout from 1972–2002. Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement [ ] (accessed: 23.09.2020).

Morris D. (2011) how big-money lobbyists and the media are losing their influence, and the Internet is giving power back to the people. L.A.: Macmillan.

Moyzhes L.V. (2020) Analiz ideologicheskogo potentsiala videoigry s tochki zreniya teorii affordansov Dzheymsa Gibsona [An analysis of the ideological potential of video games from the point of view of James Gibson’s theory of affordances]. Sotsiologiya vlasti [Sociology of Power], 32(3): 32–52 (in Russian).

Neys J., Jansz J. (2019) Engagement in play, engagement in politics: Playing political video games. In: The playful citizen. Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press: 37–55.

Neys J., Jansz J. (2010) Political internet games: engaging an audience. European Journal of Communication, 25 (3): 227–241.

Pargman D., Jakobsson P. (2008) Do you believe in magic? Computer games in everyday life. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 11(2): 225–244.

Podvalnyi М.А. (2020) Konsensus i vast' v nastol'nykh rolevykh igrakh [Consensus and power in tabletop role-playing games]. Sotsiologiya vlasti [Sociology of Power], 32 (3): 53–73 ((in Russian).

Popova O.V. (2008) Prezidentskiye vybory–2008: uroki SSHA dlya Rossii? [Presidential Election 2008: Lessons from the USA for Russia?]. Polytex [Politeks], 4: 229–239 (in Russian).

Putnam R.D. (2000). Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of american democracy. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Raessens J. (2014) The ludification of culture. In: Fuchs M., Fizek S., Ruffino P., Schrape N. (eds.) Rethinking gamification. Lüneburg: Meson press: 91–114.

Salen K., Zimmerman E. (2004) Rules of play: game design fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Scholz T. (2016) How platform cooperativizm can unleash the network. In: Scholz T., Schneider N (eds.) Ours to hack and to own. The rise of platform cooperativism, a new vision for the future of work and a fairer internet. New York; London: OR Books.

Seravin A., Sokolova E. (2019) Sovremennyye tekhnologii v elektoral'nykh protsesakh [Modern technologies in electoral processes]. Ekspertnyy institut sotsial'nykh issledovaniy. [ ] (accessed: 14.06.2020) (in Russian).

Simon B., Boudreau K., Silverman M. (2009) Two players: biography and «played sociality» in Everquest. Game Studies. April. 9(1) [ ] (accessed: 14.06.2020).

Vanke A., Ksenofontova I., Tartakovskaya I. (2014) Internet-kommunikatsii kak sredstvo i usloviye politicheskoy mobilizatsii v Rossii (na primere dvizheniya «Za chestnyye vybory») [Internet communications as a means and condition of political mobilization in Russia (on the example of the movement "For fair elections")]. Inter [Inter], 7: 44–73 (in Russian).

Volodagin A.A. (2002) Internet-smi kak arena politicheskoy bor'by [Internet media as an arena of political struggle]. Obshchestvennyye nauki i sovremennost [Social sciences and modernity], 1: 49–67 (in Russian).

Vetushinskiy A.S. (2020) Bol'she, chem prosto sredstvo: novyy podkhod k ponimaniyu geymifikatsii [More than just a tool: a new approach to understanding gamification]. Sotsiologiya vlasti [Sociology of Power], 32(3): 14–31 (in Russian).

Woolgar S. (1990) Configuring the user: the case of usability trials. The Sociological Review, 38: 58–99.

Zimmerman E. (2015) Manifesto for a ludic century. In: Walz P., Deterding S. (eds.) The gameful world: Approaches, issues, applications. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press: 19–22.