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.

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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.

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