Achievement Unlocked: Finish PhD Thesis

Well it sure has been a little quiet around here on this blog for the last year or so, but trust me, I had a good reason for it which I’m happy to be able to finally share. So without further adieu, I present to you my thesis in gamification design entitled Achievement unlocked: Investigating the design of effective gamification experiences for mobile applications and devices

You can download a copy here:

And here’s the abstract for those of you interested.

Using fun and games to motivate and engage people has had a long history. However, more recently designers have begun to directly translate elements from video games to non-game contexts in order to create more motivating and engaging experiences. The term gamification has been coined to describe this design strategy, and in the last five years a large industry has grown around providing gamification services. While research has demonstrated that gamification can be effective at producing behaviour change in various contexts, studies have found that it may also negatively affect the user experience. Further research is needed that investigates the impact that gamification has, not only on motivation and behaviour change, but on the user experience more broadly. This thesis investigates this area in order to contribute to a better understanding of the applicability, usefulness and effectiveness of gamification as a design strategy for engagement.

The original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is a novel framework for designing gamification, derived from an iterative process of evaluation. The thesis begins with the proposal of an initial framework, grounded in literature and used to design a gamification experience for university orientation. The gamification aimed to encourage new students to engage with an orientation event run by a university. A field study was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the gamification. The results of the study suggest that although the achievements were generally well-received by participants, there was little effect on experience and perceived motivation. The study also highlighted a number of design issues unique to gamification designs. These findings were used to expand and update the framework.

The updated gamification design framework was then used to design a gamification experience for people learning to drive. The gamification design aimed to encourage learner drivers to undertake diverse practice. A field study was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the gamification. The results of the study suggest that the gamification had some effect on behaviour change, was well-received, increased enjoyment and had a significant effect on reported motivation. There were only a few minor design issues reported. These findings help justify the use of the proposed framework for gamification design.

As gamification becomes a more popular design technique in both research and industry settings, it is important to investigate effectiveness of the approach. The findings of this thesis contribute to this area, presenting a design framework to aid in the effective design of gamification. Ultimately this thesis contributes to a better understanding of the design and impact of gamification in today’s society and how gamification can be used to affect our daily lives.