Does the Cipher ruling count as a spell and therefore gain life with a Kraken's Eye or similar artifact?
Casting a copy of a nonland card is casting a spell, yes. If it happens to be blue, then Kraken's Eye triggers.
702.97a Cipher appears on some instants and sorceries. It represents two abilities. The first is a spell ability that functions while the spell with cipher is on the stack. The second is a static ability that functions while the card with cipher is in the exile zone. "Cipher" means "If this spell is represented by a card, you may exile this card encoded on a creature you control" and "As long as this card is encoded on that creature, that creature has 'Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, you may copy the encoded card and you may cast the copy without paying its mana cost.'"
706.12. An effect that instructs a player to cast a copy of an object (and not just copy a spell) follows the rules for casting spells, except that the copy is created in the same zone the object is in and then cast while another spell or ability is resolving. Casting a copy of an object follows steps 601.2a-g of rule 601, "Casting Spells," and then the copy becomes cast. Once cast, the copy is a spell on the stack, and just like any other spell it can resolve or be countered.
No, I am not a judge. That's why I like to quote sources such as the rules that trump judges.