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.