chapter  1
31 Pages

Persuasive Technologies in the Rhetoric of Videogames

WithSteve Holmes

The first two chapters of this book (Part 1) offer an introduction to the concept of procedural habits, while the remaining chapters (Part 2) apply this concept to case studies centered on habit-shaping elements of contemporary videogames. In Chapter 1, I begin my efforts to define procedural habits by considering the neglected work of the only contemporary digital rhetoric researcher who takes behavior change in mundane and commercialized interface design elements as a serious and important rhetorical force: computer scientist BJ Fogg and the idea of “persuasive technologies.” 1 At first glance, this choice, particularly in the context of videogame rhetorics, makes little intuitive sense for several reasons. While James P. Zappen’s pioneering essay, “Digital Rhetoric: Toward an Integrated Theory,” mentions Fogg as a foundational figure in digital rhetoric alongside Barbara Warnick and Elizabeth Losh, few in our field have engaged his claim that algorithmically prompted behavior change is rhetorical. 2 Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice , Douglas A. Eyman’s exhaustive catalogue of past and current work in digital rhetoric, does not offer so much as a footnote to Fogg’s book Persuasive Technology . 3