How to gamify? A method for designing gamification


During recent years the enhancement of information technology via design features borrowed from (video) games, also known as “gamification”, has become a notable development both in academia and industry. Gamification primarily aims at increasing users’ positive motivations towards given activities or use of technology, and thereby, increasing the quantity and quality of the output of the given activities. Business analysts suggest that more than half of all organizations will have gamified parts of their processes by 2015 (Gartner 2011; IEEE 2014). In the academic realm, several studies in various contexts have shown that gamification can be an effective approach to increase motivation and engage users or participants in a given activity (see e.g. Hamari et al. 2014; Morschheuser et al. 2016 for reviews).

However, it has also been predicted that a majority of gamification implementations are doomed to fail due to poor understanding of how to successfully design gamification. This gap canonically often manifests as modest gamification designs commonly consisting only of simple mechanics, such as point, badges and leaderboards (Hamari et al. 2014; Morschheuser et al. 2016). Gamification is difficult to design: 1) The source of innovation; games, are complex, multifaceted, and therefore, difficult to holistically transfer to other environments, 2) gamification involves motivational information system design which entails understanding a host of (motivational) psychology, and 3) the goal of gamification is commonly also to affect behavior which adds yet another layer into the scope of gamification design.

This dearth in comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon continues to inhibit organizations from adopting and designing effective gamification approaches. Thus far, only few sources exist that provide methodological insights and practical guidance on designing gamification. However, most of the frameworks have not been empirically evaluated and have been developed in a vacuum.

Therefore, in this paper we seeked to advance the understanding of best practices related to the gamification design process. Applying design science, we approached this research gap via combination and synthesis of the current isolated gamification design frameworks, as well as by interviews with gamification experts (25) on their actual practice. Secondly, we developed a method grounded in this knowledge using method engineering and derive requirements for gamification projects. Finally, we investigated the proposed gamification framework based on results from an evaluation with 10 gamification experts and discuss our findings.

Please see the paper for full details.

Please see the complete design model here.

Citation: Morschheuser, B., Werder, K., Hamari, J., & Abe, J. (2017). How to gamify? Development of a method for gamification. In Proceedings of the 50th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Hawaii, USA, January 4-7, 2017.

Abstract: During recent years, gamification has become one of the most popular methods of enriching information technologies in several domains. Popular business analysts have made promising predictions about penetration of gamification, however, it has also been estimated that most gamification efforts will fail due to poor understanding of how to design gamification solutions. Therefore, in this paper we seek to advance the understanding of best practices related to the gamification design process. We approach this research problem via a design science research approach; firstly, by synthesizing the current body of literature on gamification design methods and interviewing 25 gamification experts. Secondly, we develop a method for gamification design via the synthesis of past design methods and interviews. Finally, we conduct an evaluation of the method via interviews of 10 gamification experts. The results indicate that the developed method is comprehensive, complete and provides practical utility. We deliver a comprehensive overview of gamification guidelines and shed novel insights into the overall nature of the gamification development and design discourse.


Benedikt Morschheuser
Institute of Information Systems & Marketing, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Corporate Research, Robert Bosch GmbH

Karl Werder
Institute of Information Systems & Marketing, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Juho Hamari
School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere

Julian Abe
Chair of Information Systems IV, University of Mannheim


Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014). Does gamification work? – A literature review of empirical studies on gamification. In proceedings of the 47th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA, January 6-9, 2014.

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.

[1] J. Arrasvuori, M. Boberg, J. Holopainen, H. Korhonen, A. Lucero, and M. Montola, “Applying the PLEX framework in designing for playfulness”, In Proceedings of the 2011 Conference on DPPI, 2011, Milano, IT, ACM Press.

[2] R. Bartle, “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who suit MUDs”, Journal of MUD Research,, 1996.

[3] S.K. Boell and D. Cecez-Kecmanovic, “A hermeneutic approach for conducting literature reviews and literature searches”, Com. of the Association for Information Systems, 34, 2014, pp. 257–286.

[4] S. Brinkkemper, “Method engineering: engineering of information systems development methods and tools”, Information and Software Technology, 38(4), 1996, pp. 275–280.

[5] J. Brito, V. Vieira, and A. Duran, “Towards a Framework for Gamification Design on Crowdsourcing Systems: The G.A.M.E. Approach”, In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Information Technology – New Generations, 2015, Las Vegas, NV, IEEE, pp. 445–450.

[6] B. Burke, Gamify: How gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things, Bibliomotion, Brookline, MA, 2014.

[7] S. Deterding, “The Lens of Intrinsic Skill Atoms: A Method for Gameful Design”, Human–Computer Interaction, 30(3-4), 2015, pp. 294–335.

[8] A. Dignan, Game frame: Using games as a strategy for success, Free Press, New York, NY, 2011.

[9] C.M. Finneran and P. Zhang, “A person–artefact–task (PAT) model of flow antecedents in computer-mediated environments”, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 59(4), 2003, pp. 475–496.

[10] Z. Fitz-Walter, “Achievement Unlocked: Investigating the Design of Effective Gamification Experiences for Mobile Applications and Devices”, Queensland University of Technology, 2015.

[11] A. Francisco-Aparicio, F.L. Gutiérrez-Vela, J.L. Isla-Montes and J.L. González-Sánchez, “Gamification: Analysis and Application”, In Penichet et al., eds., New Trends in Interaction, VR and Modeling, Springer, London, 2013, pp. 113–126.

[12] Gartner, “Gartner says by 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.”, http://www., April 11, 2011.

[13] Gartner, “Gartner says by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design”, http://www., Dez 14, 2012.

[14] J. Hamari and J. Koivisto, “Why do people use gamification services?”, International Journal of Information Management, 35(4), 2015, pp. 419-431.

[15] J. Hamari, J. Koivisto, and H. Sarsa, “Does gamification work? – A literature review of empirical studies on gamification”, In Proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2014, Waikoloa, HI, IEEE, pp. 3025–3034.

[16] R.W. Helms, R. Barneveld, and F. Dalpiaz, “A method for the design of gamified trainings”, In Proceedings of the PACIS, 2015, Singapore, AIS.

[17] M. Herger, Enterprise Gamification: Engaging people by letting them have fun, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Leipzig, 2014.

[18] P. Herzig, M. Ameling, B. Wolf, and A. Schill, “Implementing Gamification: Requirements and Gamification Platforms”, In Reiners, T. and L.C. Wood, eds., Gamification in Education and Business, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2015, pp. 431–450.

[19] A.R. Hevner, S.T. March, J. Park, and S. Ram, “Design science in information systems research”, MIS Quarterly, 28(1), 2004, pp. 75–105.

[20] K. Huotari and J. Hamari, “A definition for gamification: anchoring gamification in the service marketing literature”, Electronic Markets, 26, 2016.

[21] IEEE, “Everyone’s a Gamer – IEEE Experts Predict Gaming Will Be Integrated Into More than 85 Percent of Daily Tasks by 2020”, .html, April 14, 2014.

[22] K.M. Kapp, The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education, Pfeiffer, San Francisco, 2012.

[23] B. Kitchenham, S. Linkman, and S. Linkman, “Experiences of using an evaluation framework”, Information and Software Technology, 47(11), 2005, pp. 761–774.

[24] M. Klevers, M. Sailer, and W.A. Günthner, “Implementation model for the gamification of business processes A study from the field of material handling”, In Proceeding of the 46th ISAGA, 2015, Kyoto, Japan.

[25] K. Knaving and S. Björk, “Designing for fun and play”, In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Gameful Design, Research, and Applications – Gamification, 2013, Stratford, ON, Canada, ACM Press, pp. 131–134.

[26] W. Kuechler and V. Vaishnavi, “A Framework for Theory Development in Design Science Research: Multiple Perspectives”, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13(6), 2012, pp. 395–423.

[27] J. Kumar and M. Herger, Gamification at work, Interaction Design Foundation, 2013.

[28] C. Marache-Francisco and E. Brangier, “Process of Gamification”, In Proceedings of the 6th Centric, 2013, Venice, Italy, IARIA, pp. 126–131.

[29] B. Morschheuser, J. Hamari, and J. Koivisto, “Gamification in crowdsourcing: A review”, In Proceedings of the 49th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), 2016, Kauai, Hawaii, USA, IEEE, pp. 4375–4384.

[30] B. Morschheuser, C. Hrach, R. Alt, and C. Lefanczyk, “Gamifizierung mit BPMN”, HMD Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik, 52(6), 2015, pp. 840–850.

[31] M.D. Myers and M. Newman, “The qualitative interview in IS research: Examining the craft”, Information and Organization, 17(1), 2007, pp. 2–26.

[32] S. Nicholson, “A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamification”, In Proceedings of Games+Learning+Society 8.0, 2012, Madison, WI, pp. 223–229.

[33] J. Radoff, Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Media Games, Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, 2011.

[34] K. Robson, K. Plangger, J.H. Kietzmann, I. McCarthy, and L. Pitt, “Is it all a game? Understanding the principles of gamification”, Business Horizons, 58(4), 2015, pp. 411–420.

[35] M. Saeki, “Embedding Metrics into Information Systems Development Methods: An Application of Method Engineering Technique”, In Proceedings of the 15th CAiSE, Springer, Klagenfurt, 2003, pp. 374–389.

[36] R. Schmidt, C. Brosius, and K. Herrmanny, “Ein Vorgehensmodell für angewandte Spielformen”, HMD Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik, 52(6), 2015, pp. 826–839.

[37] E.N. Webb, “Gamification: When It Works, When It Doesn’t”, In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference DUXU, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Las Vegas, NV, USA, 2013, pp. 608–614.

[38] J. Webster and R.T. Watson, “Analyzing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Literature Review”, MIS Quarterly, 26(2), 2002, pp. xiii–xxiii.

[39] K. Werbach and D. Hunter, For the win: How game thinking can revolutionize your business, Wharton Digital Press, Philadelphia, 2012.

2 thoughts on “How to gamify? A method for designing gamification

Leave a Reply