As I said - it all comes back to the same, underlying problem - the (collective) lack of recognition and understanding of games - what it is the word game itself represents, based on its use (in general) - BOTH in isolation, and in relation to the rest of the language.
This is therefore a matter, (and failure), of LINGUISTICS, that then causes a problem of semantics.
I have a blog on gamasutra to talk about this problem - but since it's merely symptom of a deeper problem within the language, dealing with how the basics of the language is recognised and understood (ultimately because of how it is taught, which is why it's a matter of linguistics)), is the real underlying problem. (Which is why I have to wade through quite a few things to describe the problem itself for how it is related to the language in general).
In short, the problems with the word game exist because people are not applying the basic rules of English grammar consistently when describing what other words in the language represent based on how they are used - specifically the TYPES of concept/information they are used to represent, further represented by the words NOUN, VERB & ADJECTIVE. (It appears that there's a bit of a problem with adverbs too, but I haven't really looked at them yet).
The problems with the word game, are mainly a symptom of not describing nouns and verbs consistently in RELATION to each other.
It depends on how you define the term RPG in relation to computers and computer games, (rather than P&P etc. - (since, no, they're not used the same way to represent the same thing)).
The problem we have is that a lot of what people perceive as having to do with the label 'Role-playing game' has actually very little to do with what such a label describes - because of people's inconsistent, subjective perceptions of what the word game itself represents in the first place. This is then affecting how such games are designed and made, usually at the expense of the game itself, which is why most games now are merely the basic types of game - FPS/RT(TB)S/Action-adventure/Driving/Beat'em'up etc. dressed up.
The REAL problem, which we can solve, is understanding how to MANAGE complexity properly - or rather, how to give the player the tools to do so themselves. Some games can do this in a limited manner or to a limited degree - (driving games with options going from 'simulation' to 'arcade' etc.) - but the scope for using such mechanisms for all types of games, and especially the one, main element we should REALLY be looking at here - (user-defined) gameplay DEVELOPMENT - is MASSIVE.
The reason for the problems with the term 'gamification' go a lot deeper than anyone probably realises.
For this reason, most people, such as Mr Bogost or Jon Radoff, don't understand the nature of the problem itself, and instead concentrate on dealing it's symptoms, rather than understanding the cause.
Here's my reply to Job Radoff's blog (corrected for spelling - oops):
I'm sorry Mr Radoff, but in this particular case, you are wrong.
This problem goes far deeper than it may at first appear...
The problem with the word 'gamification' is ENTIRELY due to its label, which is based on an inconsistent use of the the word game, which is the built on its inconsistent and not fully recognised and understood definition, which is based on an lack of recognition of how it is used, which is then, further, based on a lack of recognition and understanding of part of the basic rules of English grammar - WHAT concepts types of words are used to represent, in conjunction with HOW they are used.
The actual root of this problem lies with the inconsistent definitions of the words noun and verb (in RELATION to each other).
The term gamification is used as an application of game-theory. The problem with game-theory, is that it's about far more than just GAMES. It's really about mathematical models of COMPETITIVE behaviour in a structured environment.
But competition is NOT the behaviour the word game ultimately represents. Competition, is instead, merely part of the application of the behaviour the word game happens to represent. Since this type of noun is not fully recognised as representing applications of behaviour, (things that happen), we have problems.
Competition is, of course, the same type of word - representing an application of compete. Unlike the word game, however, what competition represents does NOT have to be created by humanity in order to exist. For this reason, applying game theory in order to model, promote and enable competition and competitive behaviour, has nothing to do with the word game in itself. For this reason, the term 'gamification' that is used to label such a thing, is a complete misnomer - and THAT is the cause of the problem you (and Ian) have.
Interactive Narratives are NOT games in the first place - they're PUZZLES - mazes in literary/video form! (Take a choose-your-own-adventure book - cut out all the parts of text and lay them down in order, then draw lines between them representing the choices and paths the reader can take - what do we have? A MAZE.)
If you want to get REALLY fundamental - the basic games are:
Competitive throwing/movement for accuracy/precision, distance/time (duration).
Game = a structured activity (rules) in which people compete by doing something for themselves - (writing their OWN stories!).
The problem underpinning ALL of these kinds of arguments is extremely simple though:
Games are NOT fully recognised and understood for what they are, at this time: WHAT the word game itself represents, according to its 'current' USE, is NOT consistently recognised nor understood. (Most definitions of the word game are still based on a perception of the word game that was only ever consistent with some of its use centuries ago - with a meaning that is consistent/identical with the word play (when used as a noun). Since games can be played for work, this is now inconsistent with its current use and therefore definition)).
But the problem with the word game, is actually a SYMPTOM of a deeper problem within the English language - a failure to recognise and understand half of the basic rules of English grammar - WHAT words (especially types thereof) represent, (ideas/concepts), in combination with HOW the words are used. The TYPE of noun the word game belongs to is not fully recognised or understood... (Nouns in general are not fully recognised or understood for what they represent, and verbs and adjectives have problems too - (I've not looked at adverbs yet)).
I'm going to be coming back to all this later on in my blog, but I've covered the basics required for the word game, (and related words, such as competition and puzzle - (am working on the post for art) - so far, (along with word story - which many people seem to have problems with, (that is one of the reasons I'll be revisiting the basics of English grammar later)):
The reason WHY people are complaining about games these days is simple - as you said - they're NOT being made/created/designed consistently AS games in the first place! If you're not doing that, then how can you hope to make the best possible game that people then want to play for a long time?
But that's why getting it sorted out as a matter of LINGUISTICS matters first!
Yes, you're right in general, BUT, game theory has become so encompassing, that parts of it are purely a matter of psychology - and that is the part we're looking at here - NOT the mathematical side at all. (When you get down to it the entire universe is just maths, but such a perspective isn't always useful).
Nothing in what I read in your post above was specific to games - and that's the point I am making - even the implementation you try to speak of above can involve puzzles or competitions. To be honest, some MMO's also interleave games with elements of competitions and puzzles as-well - but then people don't fully understand the difference and the relationship between them, so...
And this is the point I'm making - 'gamification' in general is NOT about games. Although it can involve games, because the basis of it is merely competition and competitive behaviour - it can also involve puzzles, competitions, and even (competitive) play or work. Without fully recognising and understanding what ALL of these words represent, both in isolation, and in relation to each other, the term 'gamification' will, and IS causing problems for games in general - just like 'game' theory which it is applied from.
But none of what you're talking about is specific to just games - some of it can be merely part of work or play in general, puzzles or competitions...
If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro