Gamification: Using Game Design
Elements in Non-Gaming Contexts
“Gamification” is an informal umbrella term for the use
of video game elements in non-gaming systems to
improve user experience (UX) and user engagement.
The recent introduction of ‘gamified’ applications to
large audiences promises new additions to the existing
rich and diverse research on the heuristics, design
patterns and dynamics of games and the positive UX
they provide. However, what is lacking for a next step
forward is the integration of this precise diversity of
research endeavors. Therefore, this workshop brings
together practitioners and researchers to develop a
shared understanding of existing approaches and
findings around the gamification of information
systems, and identify key synergies, opportunities, and
questions for future research.
Gamification, game design, design patterns,
motivational affordances, funology, persuasive
technology, games with a purpose
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m [Information Interfaces and Presentation (e.g.,
HCI)]: Miscellaneous; K.8.0 [Personal Computing]:
Games; J.4 [Social and Behavioral Sciences]:
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
CHI 2011, May 7–12, 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Hans-Bredow Institute at the
University of Hamburg,
20354 Hamburg, Germany
Center for Computer Games
IT University of Copenhagen
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Department of Computer Science,
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Canada, S7N 5C9
Microsoft Research Cambridge,
7 JJ Thomson Ave
Cambridge CB3 0FB, UK
Digital Cultures Research Centre,
University of the West of England,
Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
Games and game technologies increasingly transcend
the traditional boundaries of their medium, as
evidenced by the growth of serious and pervasive
games as an industry and research field. The most
recent phenomenon in this trajectory is ‘gamification’,
an umbrella term for the use of video game elements
(rather than full-fledged games) to improve user
experience and user engagement in non-game services
Following the success of location-based service
Foursquare, this design approach has rapidly gained
traction in interaction design and digital marketing
, spawning an intense debate within the
professional community1 as well as numerous ‘gamified’
applications, ranging from productivity to finance,
health, sustainability, news, user-generated content
and tutorials. Several vendors now offer gamification as
a service layer of reward and reputation systems with
points, badges, levels and leader boards.2 At the same
time, gamification has caught the interest of
researchers as a potential means to create engaging
workplaces  or facilitate mass-collaboration .
To wit, the use of game design and game elements in
other contexts is an old topic in human-computer
interaction (HCI): Attempts to derive heuristics for
1 See e.g. the 2011 Gamification Summit and the gamification
day at the 2011 GDC Serious Games Summit.
2 See e.g. Badgeville, Bunchball, Bigdoor Media, GetGlue.
enjoyable interfaces from games reach back to the
early 1980s [9, 10]. More recently, researchers have
tried to identify design patterns that might afford joy of
use under the moniker “funology”, explicitly drawing
inspiration from game design .
A growing body of research looks into “games with a
purpose” piggybacking game play to solve human
information tasks such as tagging images. This included
work detailing specific design features that afford
player enjoyment . Furthermore, researchers in
HCI and management sciences have identified design
principles that enhance the motivational affordances of
computer-supported collaborative work [5, 21] –
principles which are congruent with research on the
motivational psychology of video games .
In persuasive technology , video games and game
aspects have been studied as potential means to shape
user behavior in directions intended by the system
designer [8, 14], or to instill embedded values .
Social psychological studies on contributions in online
communities or the motivational uses of recommender
systems arrived at conclusions that chime with core
design properties of video games [7, 15]. Likewise, it
suggests itself to model the reward and reputation
systems of gamified applications with economically
inspired approaches such as incentive centered design.
The user experience of video games has itself become a
substantial topic of HCI, with researchers developing
models and methods as well as heuristics for the
usability or playability of games [2, 18, 19]. An obvious
matter of interest is to which degree these can be
transferred to the design of gamified information
systems. Finally, a growing body of research points to
the significant role of social contexts in the constitution
of video game play experience , which immediately
raises the question whether and how the transfer of
(game) design patterns into ‘alien’ social contexts
might significantly alter their experiential affordances.
Faced with the broad adoption of ‘gamified’ applications
beyond HCI laboratories on the one hand and a rich if
disconnected body of existing research on the other,
the goal of this workshop is to bring together HCI
researchers from academia and industry to (a) take
stock and synthesize a shared picture of pertinent
existing and current research surrounding gamification,
and (b) identify potential new aspects and research
opportunities opened by new gamified applications. To
this end, we invite researchers to submit position
papers on (ongoing) empirical work or accounts of
existing approaches and findings that might elucidate
the user experience, psychology, social dynamics and
design of information systems employing game
elements. The primary intended outcome of the
workshop is to build a shared overview of the state-of-
the-art (published as a report) by clarifying the
questions below, and to seed a researcher community
that shall be built out via the workshop site and follow-
up events that connect other pertinent research
communities (e.g. game studies) towards substantial
research and publication efforts.
• What is the current state of research surrounding
gamification? How might we integrate it?
• Which existing approaches are well-suited to study
and model gamified information systems?
• Do gamified applications feature specific or novel
characteristics not covered by previous research?
• What happens when game design elements are
transferred into non-game social contexts?
• Which promising (new) research topics and data
sources do gamified applications provide?
Participants and Expected Interest
We consider the collaborative study of the recent surge
of ‘gamified’ information systems to be of immediate
relevance to HCI researchers in all fields mentioned
above (funology, persuasive technology, communities,
motivational affordances, game UX, etc.): On the one
hand, the implementation of game design elements on
a mass market scale potentially surfaces phenomena
that wouldn’t appear in laboratory prototypes. Gamified
systems ‘in the wild’ provide new objects of inquiry in
an unprecedented variety, data quality and scale. On
the other hand, the focused integration of the many
close but by-and-large decoupled research endeavors
would greatly benefit each in turn. Although workshops
in past conferences have already addressed single
issues [12, 13], none of them has taken such an
integrative approach. Therefore, at this point in time,
such a synthesizing workshop on gamification would be
of high interest to HCI researchers as well as
researchers working on the increased blurring of
(digital) life, work, and play in general.
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