from the introduction:
»Finally,« a friend commented with relief while we were looking at Google+ last July, »it was so annoying having one thousand Facebook friends, all mixed up with no differentiation. Now you can divide them into groups and the information will be filtered accordingly. Very practical…«. Maybe, I thought, but will Google’s + practical circles limit the increasing score of Facebook friends? Will our mentality towards online friending change? Or are the circles proposing yet another rating for our networked connections? In any case, the idea of a friends’ hierarchy is not new. Facebook had initiated the Top 8 Friends list back in 2007 and MySpace even earlier. Yet, with Google+, the call for a differentiation of one’s contacts was more apparent, possibly because it was taken as a response to Facebook’s thousands of friends mess. Google+ again confronted us with an old school-like problem: who are our real friends and how many are they? It probably felt a bit weird and uncomfortable deciding on the circles of our contacts. But we responded to it, like we always do. After all, »today\'s multitude has something childish in it: but this something is as serious as can be«, as Paolo Virno has written (Virno, 2004). We repeat mentalities and actions like children do in order to find new »common spaces« where we can feel at home. Platforms like Google seem to know how to take this into consideration every time they create a new interaction and participation context. And they also make it very easy for us: We only need to jump in, contribute and connect to our friends. We are being treated like kids and amateurs at the same time but we do not care. We respond every time with the same curiosity and excitement. But, what drives this interest of ours? Which mechanisms are being used by the platforms to encourage our participation and engagement, for which purpose and what outcomes do they bring? This article will aim to critically discuss the creation, support and maintaining of today’s social relationships and friendships under the influence of a new emerging theory, called gamification.