Gamification in Crowdsourcing

During recent years modern ICT technologies have spawned two interwoven phenomena: gamification and crowdsourcing (CS) . The rapid diffusion of these technologies can be seen both in industry as well as in the academia. Today, multitude of different organizations employ CS as a way to outsource various tasks to be carried out by ‘the crowd’; a mass of people reachable through the internet. At the same time, business analysts have estimated that at least 50% of organizations have gamified some of their processes by 2015. As illustrated in the Figure, the body of literature on both CS and gamification has been rapidly growing. Moreover, these technologies appear together frequently: CS is one of the major application areas for gamification. Naturally, the main goals of CS in general are either cost savings or the possibility to innovate solutions that would be difficult to cultivate in-house. However, CS relies on the existence of a reserve of people that would be willing to take on tasks for free or for a minute monetary compensation. Therefore, CS tasks are increasingly gamified, that is, organizations attempt to make the activities more like playing a game in order to provide other motives for working than just the monetary compensation.

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While the union of these novel technological phenomena seems intuitively appealing, there has still been a lack of coherent understanding of the use of gamification in CS. Although singular scattered empirical pieces on the topic exist, efforts had not yet been made to collate and synthesize this body of knowledge. Moreover, both CS and gamification can take a variety of forms and it would be short-sighted to assume that differing gamification implementations would function similarly across different CS approaches.

The literature seems to be unanimous; gamification seems to indeed “work” with a majority of configurations and pairings with different CS types (crowdprocessing, -rating, -solving, and -creating). The empirical studies comparing gamified with non-gamified approaches report an increase in engagement, output quality or other positive effects.

The literature, however, at this early stage, is still quite scattered and not enough research has been conducted to draw clear solid conclusions as to which specific implementation would work better or worse in certain situations. It is clear that contextual factors and factors related to crowdsourcees play a role, but as to what extent and how is still unclear. Nevertheless, it is not an easy task to design gamification as also witnessed by the studies in the review. When designing an information system that attempts to affect human motivations and behavior, developers will inevitably end up with a complex design challenge.

Our study, however, shows that there are differences as to how gamification has been employed across different CS archetypes. Crowdsourcing initiatives that provide more monotonous tasks most commonly used mere points and other simpler gamification implementations, whereas CS initiatives that seek for more diverse and creative contributions have employed gamification in more manifold ways employing a richer set of affordances. Regardless, points and leaderboards were clearly the most popular motivational affordances used in all four forms of crowdsourcing systems to create competition between the participants.

Please see the paper for full details.

Citation: Morschheuser, B., Hamari, J., & Koivisto, J. (2016). Gamification in crowdsourcing: A review. In proceedings of the 49th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Hawaii, USA, January 5-8, 2016.

Abstract: This study investigates how different gamification implementations can increase crowdsourcees’ motivation and participation in crowdsourcing (CS). To this end, we review empirical literature that has investigated the use of gamification in crowdsourcing settings. Overall, the results of the review indicate that gamification has been an effective approach for increasing crowdsourcing participation. When comparing crowdcreating, -solving, -processing and – rating CS approaches, the results show differences in the use of gamification across CS types. Crowdsourcing initiatives that provide more monotonous tasks most commonly used mere points and other simpler gamification implementations, whereas CS initiatives that seek for diverse and creative contributions have employed gamification in more manifold ways employing a richer set of mechanics. These findings provide insights for designers of gamified systems and further research on the topics of gamification and crowdsourcing.

Authors

Benedikt Morschheuser
Corporate Research, Robert Bosch GmbH
Karlsruhe Service Research Institute, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
http://gamifinator.de

Juho Hamari
Game Research Lab, School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere
http://juhohamari.com
@VirtualEconomy

Jonna Koivisto
Game Research Lab, School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere
http://jonnakoivisto.com

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