Gamification Science, Its History and Future: Definitions and a Research Agenda

Richard N. Landers, Elena M. Auer, Andrew B. Collmus, Michael B. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. Definitions of gamification tend to vary by person, both in industry and within academia. One particularly popular lay interpretation, introduced and popularized by Ian Bogost, and reiterated by Jan Klabbers, is that gamification is “bullshit” and “exploitationware.” They describe gamification as a marketing term or business practice invented to sell products rather than to represent a real and unique phenomenon relevant to a nascent game science. However, this view is an oversimplification, one which ignores a growing body of theory development and empirical research on gamification within a post-positivist epistemology. In fact, because gamification is so much more outcome-focused than general game design, current gamification research in many ways has a stronger footing in modern social science than much games research does. Aim. In this article, to address common misunderstandings like these, we describe the philosophical underpinnings of modern gamification research, define the relationship between games and gamification, define and situate gamification science as a subdiscipline of game science, and explicate a six-element framework of major concerns within gamification science: predictor constructs, criterion constructs, mediator constructs, moderator constructs, design processes, and research methods. This framework is also presented diagrammatically as a causal path model. Conclusion. Gamification science refers to the development of theories of gamification design and their empirical evaluation within a post-positivist epistemology. The goal of gamification scientist-practitioners should be to understand how to best meet organizational goals through the design of gamification interventions, drawing upon insights derived from both gamification science and games research more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-337
Number of pages23
JournalSimulation and Gaming
Volume49
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Keywords

  • constructs
  • criteria
  • criterion
  • design
  • game
  • game science
  • gamification
  • gamification science
  • mediator
  • moderator
  • post-positivism
  • predictor
  • research methods
  • science
  • theory

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