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Pinni B building, auditorium 1097, address: Kanslerinrinne 1

Docotral student Jonna Koivisto

Doctoral defence of M.A. Jonna Koivisto

Gamification: a study on users, benefits and literature

The field of science of the dissertation is Information studies and interactive media.

The opponent is professor Hans van der Heijden (University of Sussex, UK). Associate professor Juho Hamari acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is English.

Research on gamification reports mostly positive results

During the past decade, technology and especially game design have been increasingly harnessed into motivating people and providing support towards various behaviors. This phenomenon has been named gamification, referring to solutions that attempt to support motivation to engage in various behaviors by employing design characteristic to games. The aim of gamification is to induce experiences that are commonly experienced when playing games in contexts where such experiences are not usually encountered. Consequently, by employing design for gameful experiences into various contexts, gamification designers seek to create similar motivations and engagement for different activities and behaviors in contexts ranging from health and well-being to business and organizational management.

However, the understanding of what types of motivations and benefits influence the use of gamification services has been lacking. This dissertation work has examined the perceived benefits of gamification use as well as other, e.g. demographic factors affecting the use intentions of the systems.

One of the main findings of the dissertation work was that gamification systems are used for their utility functions as well as for hedonic reasons. This finding highlights the importance of designing gamification for reaching meaningful tasks and goals more effectively, and at the same time, seeking to create intrinsically motivating, enjoyment-inducing experiences. Furthermore, regarding social aspects, the findings indicate that harnessing the social motivations by enabling community creation and interaction and thus inducing social engagement can have a strong positive influence on the intentions to continue using the gamified system.

The contextuality of gamification and the effects of individual differences are commonly speculated on in gamification literature. The findings of this dissertation provide empirical evidence from the context of one gamification service, indicating that there are indeed differences based on demographical factors on how strongly different aspects of gamification are experienced. This finding suggests that gamification designs will potentially benefit from catering for different use motivations in different user segments. Furthermore, the finding emphasizes the need for designers to understand and know their user base and their needs.

Finally, one of the significant contributions of this work is in the provision of the most comprehensive review of gamification literature to date. The findings of this review work have provided an overarching look at how and where gamification is implemented, how it is studied, and how the results are converging with regards to the effectiveness of gamification. As the body of literature on gamification keeps expanding, the current mapping has shown that research efforts have been rather focused, and that several perspectives still lack attention. At the same time, it has indicated that research reports mainly positively oriented results from gamification experiments, thus providing support for continuing research efforts on the potential of gamification.

The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2316, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2017. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1820, Tampere University Press 2017.

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