I am a student at Ryerson University's MBA in the Management of Technology and Innovation. As part of my curriculum, I must write a major research paper (MRP) on a topic of my choosing. As a software developer and gamer, I am quite interested in how you can create engaging software applications for a user, so I chose to study gamification.
I will be presenting my research at a poster session on Thursday, August 15th, 2013, 6:30-8:00 PM, at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Cara Commons (TRS 1-148), 55 Dundas St. West.
Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users and solve problems. Despite the amount of books and papers written on the subject, there is no single database or repository that identifies gamification systems and allows those interested to compare and contrast them. This paper aims to fill that gap by creating a database of gamified systems. A total of 79 systems were studied that focused on the following industries: Consumer, Education, Education, Enterprise, Government, Health, Social Good, Research and Finance. Consumer-focused gamification is by far the most popular, with 57% of the systems studied targeted towards the consumer space.
For game mechanics, 84% of the gamified systems used points, making it by far the most popular mechanic used. This was followed closely by Challenges, Badges, Leaderboards, Rewards, Badges, Competition and Cooperation, indicating that the PBL triad of points, badges and leaderboards is fairly strong. However, some of the game mechanics that are found in virtually all video games, such as narrative, difficulty tiers and boss battles, are underutilized in gamification, which lends credence to its critics.
While the criticisms are important to highlight, the breadth and depth of how gamification is being used is encouraging for its importance in the future. Organizations from hospitals, governments, NGOs, established corporations and small startups are all utilizing gamification to motivate users, engage employees and solve a variety of problems the world is facing.
Other interesting results include: 51% of gamified systems attempt to solve the problem of user motivation; 88% of gamified systems are free to end users; 74% of gamified systems are websites; and gamified systems targeted towards Health stand out in their heavy use of progress, challenge and cooperation mechanics in comparison to other industries.
From the research, there still appears to be confusion between what constitutes a gamified system, with serious games and generic loyalty programs being incorrectly included under the definition. Despite this, it is clear that gamification is here to stay and will become an important tool to solve problems: be they business oriented, personal or social.