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
Gamification has become increasingly popular (Figure) and it is starting to establish itself as an independent vein of literature. However, gamification bears many similarities with other (somewhat scattered) conceptual developments. Perhaps the most analogous conceptual development is persuasive technology which, similarly to gamification, refers to technology being used to influence people’s psychological states and behavior. The differences are subtle; on the conceptual level, persuasive technology focuses more on social and communicative persuasion and attitude change (Fogg, 2002), whereas gamification centers more around invoking users’ (intrinsic) motivations (through gameful experiences and affordances – Huotari & Hamari, 2012). These similarities imply that research regarding the parallel developments most likely hold interesting findings also from the perspective of gamification. Continue reading
Everyone knows the blueprint of a common gamification attempt: badges, points and leaderboards for everyone (slightly exaggerating). Supposedly, a common belief is that there is a one-size-fits-all-solution that works for everyone. Consequently and probably with somewhat unwarranted expectations, popular sources (Gartner 2011; IEEE 2014) enthusiastically predict that organizations will increasingly adopt and implement gamification despite a lack of consistent body of empirical research studying the effects of gamification (see Hamari et al. 2014 for a literature reviews). Without knowledge of how different people react and perceive gamification, customizing, tailoring and targeting gamification solutions to different segments is difficult.
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.
Although gamification is most commonly connected with experiences such as mastery, competence, flow and goal commitment (Huotari & Hamari 2012; Hamari 2013), it is quite evident that also social factors have an important role to play. Therefore, we wanted to empirically investigate how social factors such as social influence, getting recognized and reciprocal benefits contribute to attitudes and use intentions towards gamification services.
I conducted a 1.5-year-long field experiment on whether badges, which have been one of the main mechanics in gamification, had an effect on the usage activity, quality and social interaction within an eCommerce website. The data, gathered between December 2010 to the end of July 2012, consisted of the usage data of 3,234 users. The field experiment especially focused on whether providing users with clear goals and enabling social features (in form of enabling comparing badges) (2×2 design) affected the individual numbers of posted trade proposals, accepted transactions, comments and overall use activity. The users received badges for different beneficial activities, such as posting trade proposals, accepting transactions and posting comments.