Understanding gamification and its effectiveness beyond anecdotal evidence and hype is evidently a pertinent practical issue as well as, increasingly, a scholarly pursuit. Regardless of the increasing amount of both industry chatter and scholarly articles, there still is a dearth of coherent understanding whether gamification works and under which circumstances. To address this gap, we reviewed empirical studies on gamification.
We focused on investigating (in accordance to Huotari & Hamari 2012; Zhang 2008) what were the implemented affordances (independent variables), psychological and behavioural outcomes (dependent variables), what was gamified, as well as the methods and results of these studies.
In summary, the current empirical research on gamification largely supports the popular view that, indeed, gamification does produce positive effects, but many caveats exist (see e.g. Hamari 2013). Most frequently, the studies bring forth three categories of caveats: the context of gamification, qualities of the users using the system and possible novelty effects. See the paper for more details.
The study published was the Proceedings of 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Download here.
Citation: Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., and Sarsa, H. (2014). Does Gamification Work? – A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on gamification. In proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA, January 6-9, 2014.
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Abstract: This paper reviews peer-reviewed empirical studies on gamification. We create a framework for examining the effects of gamification by drawing from the definitions of gamification and the discussion on motivational affordances. The literature review covers results, independent variables (examined motivational affordances), dependent variables (examined psychological/behavioral outcomes from gamification), the contexts of gamification, and types of studies performed on the gamified systems. The paper examines the state of current research on the topic and points out gaps in existing literature. The review indicates that gamification provides positive effects, however, the effects are greatly dependent on the context in which the gamification is being implemented, as well as on the users using it. The findings of the review provide insight for further studies as well as for the design of gamified systems.
Researcher @ Game Research Lab – University of Tampere
School of Science – Aalto University