chapter  2
32 Pages

From Persuasive Technologies to Procedural Habits

WithSteve Holmes

In the previous chapter, I laid out the argument that Fogg’s work is useful as a limit case for videogame rhetoric by highlighting an extreme view of the importance of habits and what we would typically view as mundane interface design elements in videogames that produce them. I also indicated that the idea of a persuasive technology requires a more complex understanding of the relationship between habit and rhetoric to understand how habits function in rhetoric for players’ creative rhetorical actions as well. It is therefore necessary to expand the idea of persuasive technologies in this chapter through what I am calling procedural habits. Where mechanism in videogame rhetoric circumscribes habit’s role in rhetoric to the weak defense (mind/body dualism) or the strong defense (culture/nature dualism), procedural habits expands these accounts by exploring how non-mechanistic habits co-constitute the ways in which we think, reason, write, and communicate through the play and design of videogames, including the role of social, environmental, and material contexts that structure these activities. Procedural habits is what enables us to use the idea of a mundane habit-shaping design element—which Fogg’s work foregrounds—as a site through which to rethink the expressive/mundane boundaries to argue that mundane videogame design elements are equally as expressive rhetorical actors as traditional texts.