Flow in Gamification

Reference: Hamari, J., & Koivisto, J. (2014). Measuring flow in gamification: Dispositional Flow Scale-2. Computers in Human Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2014.07.048

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Summary of results:

  • Expectedly, autotelic experience, clear goals, (immediate) feedback, control and challenge-skill balance were the most salient dimensions of flow in gamification (of exercise) whereas time transformation, merging action-awareness, loss of self-consciousness were the least salient.
  • Rather than all nine dimensions of flow being reflective of the overall flow, the study suggests that dimensions of flow divide into highly inter-correlated conditions of flow (challenge-skill-balance, clear goals, control, feedback, and autotelic experience) and into possible outcomes from reaching flow (loss of self-consciousness, time transformation, concentration, and merging action-awareness).

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Gamification Considered Harmful?

Points, levels and leaderboards are often perceived as the bread and butter of gamification. Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham (2011) even call them “the heart of any gaming system” and “an absolute requirement for all gamified systems”. Game designer Margaret Robertson (2011) on the other hand decries this practice as pointsification and deems it “the thing that is least essential to games”. Similarly, Chris Hecker (2010) warned game designers not to blindly resort to achievements (or points, levels and leaderboards for that matter), because they could stifle players’ intrinsic motivation, that is, their desire to engage with a game (or gamified service). Continue reading