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Energy wastage in public buildings amounts to an important and not fully addressed cost. The present study is focused on introducing gamification at the workplace, with the overall goal of reducing energy wastage during and past employees' working hours. In the context of an EU Horizon 2020 project, a gamified app and supporting infrastructure will be deployed to assist and motivate employees of three large public organizations in different countries, in reducing energy wastage and adopting energy-efficient behaviour. We conducted semi-structured interviews with selected representative employees, to harness important gamification-related insights and, thus, ensure that we will design and develop a gamification architecture and application which the employees will adopt.
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Waste No More:
Gamification for Energy Efficient Behaviour at the Workplace
Stavros Lounis, Dimosthenis Kotsopoulos, Cleopatra Bardaki, Thanasis G. Papaioannou,
Katerina Pramatari
Athens University of Economics and Business
Abstract: Energy wastage in public buildings amounts to an important and not fully addressed cost. The present
study is focused on introducing gamification at the workplace, with the overall goal of reducing energy wastage
during and past employees’ working hours. In the context of an EU Horizon 2020 project, a gamified app and
supporting infrastructure will be deployed to assist and motivate employees of three large public organizations in
different countries, in reducing energy wastage and adopting energy-efficient behaviour. We conducted semi-
structured interviews with selected representative employees, to harness important gamification-related insights
and, thus, ensure that we will design and develop a gamification architecture and application which the employees
will adopt.
Keywords: Gamification, Energy Wastage, Employee Behaviour, Public Buildings
1. Introduction
The energy that is being consumed in the buildings sector accounts for 20.1% of the total energy
consumed on a global level, while it is expected to grow by 2.1% per year from 2012 to 2040 for the
residential sector (IEO Report, 2016). Simultaneously, there is a growing need for sustainability and
solutions and practices that promote an ecological way of life. Motivated by such facts, this research is
interested in gamified ICT solutions that, on one hand, aspire to decrease the overall energy efficiency
of workplaces and on the other, intend to make employees more energy aware, towards changing their
energy consumption behavior.
More specifically, this research is conducted in the context of a European H2020 project (2016-2019)
that aims to develop an IT ecosystem that utilizes Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to interconnect,
monitor, control and collect energy-related data from heterogeneous data sources in buildings. The
results from the advanced modeling and analytics of this data will feed a gamification application
addressed to the buildings residents, namely the employees of three different workplaces that
participate in the project. The gamified app is intended to educate employees towards the benefits of
decreasing energy consumption while at work, e.g. through less unnecessary printing, with an
indicative goal of changing their behavior and adopting a more ecological way of living.
To ensure that the proposed gamified solution will be adopted by the employees, we have decided to
conduct a systematic users’ requirements analysis. This paper presents the results of semi-structured
interviews conducted with selected users / employees. These interviews provide the first insights on the
employees’ perceptions on gamification at the workplace, in order to ensure that we will include their
preferred game elements in the gamification architecture. We additionally highlight some of the
interesting findings that will guide the design of the gamified app: the majority of the interviewees
favors team-based gaming scenarios; rewards are optional because the participants believe that energy
efficiency is a social responsibility and they don’t want to feel guilty for their energy consumption
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. First, we provide a short overview of related work on
gamification and energy efficiency. Then, we introduce the context and methodology of our research
study. Afterwards, we present the results of the interviews we conducted to assess the users’
perspective. Moreover, we discuss the results and we conclude with our future research plans.
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2. Related Work
Gamification is nowadays embedded in our lives, capturing the attention of the industry, as well as the
academia. Indeed “The use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled
& Nacke, 2011) has transformed different phenomena to resemble game-like experiences for the
participating individuals. With the use of points (Cheong,Cheong & Filippou, 2013; Eickhoff, Harris,
de Vries & Srinivasan, 2012; Farzan, DiMicco, Millen, Dugan, Geyer & Brownholtz, 2008; Thom,
Millen & DiMicco 2012;), badges (Butler, 2013; Li, Huang & Cavusoglu, 2012), leaderboards (Butler,
2013) quests (Zichermann and Cunnungham, 2011), rewards (Lounis, Neratzouli & Pramatari, 2013)
and additional extant and researched game-elements, companies transform their offerings and
processes, aiming towards motivating participants to engage with a solution (Amir and Ralph, 2014;
Kappen and Nacke, 2013) and change their behaviours in a given context. A number of gamification
frameworks for tailoring game elements to non-game contexts, in a way that they serve business-driven
or user-centered goals, have been introduced in the recent years. Additionally, many different
gamification frameworks have been identified in the academic world (Mora, Riera, Gonzalez &
Arnedo-Moreno, 2015). These game elements and gamification frameworks can guide the creation of
gamified solutions that can ultimately provide compelling experiences to the end users of various
gamified systems in different non-game contexts.
In this spirit, our research study’s non-game context concerns the workplace and the goal is energy
efficiency. The industry has already engaged in games and gamification for energy efficiency at home,
developing multiple solutions like Cool Choices, WeSpire, Ecoinomy, JouleBug and Carbon4Square
amongst others (Grossberg, Wolfson, Mazur-Stommen, Farley & Nadel, 2015). At the same time,
academia has been experimenting with game elements such as feedback, tips, challenges, social
challenges and rewards, through the ‘EnergyLife’ gamified app and conclusions included that the users
changed their energy consumption habits towards more efficient practices and subsequent savings
(Gamberini et al., 2011). ‘Energy Battle’ is another gamified application, aimed at energy savings by
employing feedback, rewards and ranking, that also yielded positive results (Geelen, Keyson, Boess
and Brezet, 2012). Furthermore, Gustafsson et al. (2009) demonstrated the capacity of games and
gamification to motivate participation and, through the use of challenges and energy related tips,
succeed in the reduction of energy consumption during gameplay. Thus, it is worth cultivating energy
reduction habits to the employees, at their workplace, towards encouraging sustainability. Furthermore,
inspired by demonstrated applications of gamification for energy efficiency at home, we focus on the
potential of gamification to educate and motivate employees towards reducing energy consumption at
work e.g. by turning the office lights off when they have a lunch break.
3. Harnessing The Employees’ Gamification Perspective
The ultimate goal of our research is to specify the detailed characteristics of a gamified app designed
for use at the workplace. Such, that employees will include in their work routine and use daily, in order
to become more energy sensitive and adopt habits that favor lower energy consumption. To this end
we, first of all, wanted to gain insight into the employees’ perceptions, on the introduction of
gamification in the workplace, to ensure the inclusion of the optimal game elements in the global
gamification architecture of the gamified platform. Hence, we conducted semi-structured interviews
with selected potential users at the three workplaces where we aim to deploy the gamified app. The
first site is a municipality’s IT support service in Greece, set in a public office space that hosts 55
employees in 14 offices. The second site is an electricity regulation agency in Spain, hosting 49
employees in an open-space office and 8 separate offices. The last site is a museum in the city of
Luxembourg with 100 employees on 4 buildings, exhibition rooms, and 25 administrative offices. All
employees in the sites have mainly administrative, technical and back office support roles, while
different employees can act upon different energy consuming devices in a separate, but accounted for
manner, due to role-related responsibilities. Overall, the most energy offending devices in terms of
energy wastage identified include lighting, PCs and monitors, printers, air conditioning units and
kitchen appliances.
We interviewed 26 employees in total, with a two-fold gamification focus: First to examine the
eligibility of the specific non-game context to be gamified, its potential and inherent limitations; and
second to dig deeper into different game elements and their perceived contribution in the overall goal
of energy wastage prevention. Questions were also asked with regards to the general energy consuming
behaviour at the workplace and daily routine of the individuals. For the present research purposes,
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employees from different divisions of each site and with different organizational roles were selected to
account for all types of employees extant and in proportion. The sample of 26 employees consisted of
both male (46%) and female (54%) participants. Although we interviewed a fraction of the total
employees on all sites, selected with careful sampling and a thorough collection technique, a small
amount of interviews can produce data capable of addressing the research goal (Holloway, 1997).
Indeed, we sampled until there was no production of new information or insights, following the
theoretical saturation general rule of qualitative research. In the present research, theoretical saturation
was deemed achieved and was satisfactory for valid sampling after 26 employees. Our research is
additionally consistent with the suggested valid range of case sampling of more than ten cases
(Eisenhardt, 1989). Moreover, all information collected during the interviews was content-analyzed
and coded by three independent coders into categories pertaining to the present research. A number of
categories were decided upon ahead of time (e.g. Game Element of Point, Badge etc.) while other
categories were identified based on the employees’ responses (e.g. setup of teams). In the case of
disagreement on the classification of any particular statement, the disagreements were resolved through
joint discussion.
4. Results: The Employees’ Perspective on Gamification
The following in-depth results from the interviews address gamification design insights pertaining to
the non-game context and its eligibility to be gamified, overall gamification architecture insights and
insights on individual game elements with the overall goal of driving employees toward the common
effort of endorsing sustainable and waste-free energy consumption practices.
In relation to preventing energy wastage at the workplace, the interviews revealed a number of
interesting insights. Initially, the majority (24) of the participants on all three sites indicated that as they
were aware of different energy wasting scenarios currently extant at their organization (e.g. Monitors
left on standby after work, air-conditioning set to very high temperature etc.) they believe that the
gamified app should be evolved around the actual energy consumed at their workplace, and what they
can do about it. Overall, they would be interested in having a support mechanism (that could resemble
a game) for motivating all to behave responsibly. Another important outcome was that the sample that
admitted to smartphone gameplay habits, was almost equally divided between individuals with (13
participants) and without (12) previous and current experience in playing mobile games. Furthermore,
we identified a key intricacy of the present non-game context that is illustrated by the following
statement: "Do not make people feel guilty" (Spanish site). Identifying energy wastage, particularly in
a workplace environment, may therefore lead to dismay by employees and higher management, and
therefore decreased usage of the gamified solution. Lastly, 11 interviewees suggested that they use a
smartphone on a daily basis, while explicitly stating that the system’s interaction with the users/
employees should be via a smartphone app (iOS and Android) and not a PC-based application.
In terms of overall gamification potential architecture, the valuable insights relate to the need for
utilizing real energy consumption data in the gameplay, and the process of attaining the goal of
preventing energy wastage. Through the interviews we identified important differences on three major
gamification design elements with implications in supporting the aforementioned process: (a) team
formation and subsequent collaboration in teams (b) rewards for completing energy wastage goals and
(c) social aspects of the gamified process. Concerning the gameplay mode, the interviewees in their
majority opted for a team-based scenario of pursuing goals in a collaborative form (16), as opposed to a
single player mode of pursuing goals (10). At the same time, both for team and single player modes,
the results for the rewards for completing a goal are split; 9 participants believe that rewards are
deserved for being energy efficient at work, while 17 don’t because they feel that it is their
responsibility to be energy conscious. This finding will guide the design of the gamification
architecture towards optimal rewarding. A final important result that differs in the present non-game
context (workplace) is that a segment (5 out of 26) of the employees explicitly stated that they did not
want the game to feature a connection with social media (e.g. Facebook).
5. Discussion and Conclusions
Τhe focus of the semi-structured interviews, in terms of gamification, was to garner employees’
perceptions on gamification and sustainable energy usage in the workplace environment, as well as
identify the potential benefits from the introduction of gamification in the process. Results indicate a
potential benefit from the introduction of gamification towards energy wastage prevention.
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Additionally, in relation to the non-game context at hand, it was found that it is eligible for the
introduction of gamification. Furthermore, a number of intricacies of the specific non-game context
were identified, like the need for disaggregation of energy consumption through shared appliances (e.g
printers and office lights) and subsequent inclusion of their effect (energy reduction), on specific game
rule-sets (e.g. Award points per team member’s behavior on commonly utilized printer). Another
interesting fact is that not all employees are allowed to act upon commonly consuming devices. An
example of that issue can be illustrated by an HVAC unit, that consumes a disproportionate amount of
energy than the light in an office, while not all employees can control the HVAC. This leads to the
problem of an employee that behaves consistently in a sustainable manner over the lights, not being
able to produce a large scale reduction in energy consumption, compared to an employee that acts upon
an HVAC that may not be behaving in an energy friendly way as often. Therefore, the need for the
gamification solution to also account for individual behavioural change and normalize rewards taking
into account the effect of energy reduction aat the same time, is created.
On the gamification element of teams, the main findings include the need for team formation in
different setups. Initially teams should be formed in a way that reflects organizational structures and
organization divisions. Users on all sites belong in divisions that share energy consuming devices and
have different energy consuming requirements (e.g. Accounting prints a plethora of reports, whereas IT
doesn’t, leading to an inability of accounting to reduce energy consumption through printers). Another
team formation insight is that teams could be formed on an ad-hoc basis, supporting global goals (e.g.
Reduce 10% energy wastage on monitors on the first floor). Regarding the preferred way of team
interactions, it was found that individual contribution towards the achievement of the goal should be
acknowledged and rewarded, as illustrated by the following statements: "In a game for our purpose, I
would prefer a common goal, not individual goals." and “If the common goals are attained, any
benefits should be divided according to individual efforts if possible. Everybody should win something
in any case.“ (Greek participant).
Regarding the rewards structure, the interviews showed that employees were divided between those
opting for rewards and those that did not want something in return. Building on that, and to account for
both, different rewards could be introduced that may be pursued selectively. Example rewards could
include physical rewards as illustrated by the statement: “let’s reduce energy consumption and win a
free coffee” (Greek participant) and virtual representations of achievements (i.e. Badges). An important
factor that will play a role in the ability to introduce physical rewards is the ability of the organization
to provide bonuses.
Further on and in relation to the game element of a scoreboard an interesting finding was that, as the
context is of organizational nature, many users were skeptical towards their energy related behaviour
being monitored, as well as its potential impact on their work (e.g. HR evaluation based on energy
efficiency). Therefore in the present non-game context it is prudent to further examine the eligibility
and potential a scoreboard may have on incentivisation. Lastly, in relation to the basic building block
of gamification, the points allocation mechanism, taking under consideration the results of the
interviews it is evident that points should be allocated based on actions that can be validated by the
system. Additionally, in team-based scenarios, they should be proportionate to the contribution of each
participant / team-member in the common goal.
Overall, this paper presents the first efforts of a research study that aspires to design, develop and
evaluate a gamified app, and supporting infrastructure, aimed at changing the behavior of employees
towards adopting more energy efficient habits. The presented user interviews are the first step in our
identification of the future employees/ usersrequirements and needs. We intend to utilize the
interview insights to formulate a questionnaire and conduct a users’ survey to collect more detailed
information on their energy consumption practices, willingness to change their energy behavior and,
certainly, the global game elements they prefer to see in a gamified app. We will utilize all these results
to ensure that we will develop a gamified app that matches the needs and preferences of the users; and,
thus, they will effectively use it. Then, we will conduct pilot applications of the gamified solution in
the three sites and evaluate the results in terms of real energy consumption and employees’ behavior
change. Our ultimate goal is to provide design and evaluation guidelines to future researchers and
practitioners that are interested in gamified apps for energy efficiency purposes.
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This research study is partially funded by the project ChArGED (CleAnweb Gamified Energy
Disaggregation), that receives funding from the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme,
under grant agreement No 696170.
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The present study aims to identify the potential benefits deriving from the introduction of gamification elements in the consumer shopping process, in order to engage consumers in a more ecologically conscious behavior. Interviews with lead consumers show that the gamification of the shopping process results in increment of the stated intention to participate in the shopping process as well as an increment in the stated intention to purchase and an increase in the price premium consumers are willing to pay for environmentally friendly products. © IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2013.
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Although fun is desirable in nearly all commercial games, defining it and actually getting it into a game can prove difficult. Developers have added multiplayer features to their games since the beginning of the industry in an attempt to create fun, but to what extent does this actually affect a player's perception of a game's fun? This paper gives an overview of relevant research relating to fun and play before attempting to tackle the key issue of the effect of player success as measured by leaderboard rankings on the perception of a game's fun.
Conference Paper
Gamification has the potential to improve the quality of learning by better engaging students with learning activities. Our objective in this study is to evaluate a gamified learning activity along the dimensions of learning, engagement, and enjoyment. The activity made use of a gamified multiple choice quiz implemented as a software tool and was trialled in three undergraduate IT-related courses. A questionnaire survey was used to collect data to gauge levels of learning, engagement, and enjoyment. Results show that there was some degree of engagement and enjoyment. The majority of participants (77.63 per cent) reported that they were engaged enough to want to complete the quiz and 46.05 per cent stated they were happy while playing the quiz. In terms of learning, the overall results were positive since 60.53 per cent of students stated that it enhanced their learning effectiveness. A limitation of the work is that the results are self-reported and the activity was used over a short period of time. Thus, future work should include longer trial periods and evaluating improvements to learning using alternative approaches to self-reported data.