Motivation and emotion/Book/2021/Gamification and work motivation

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Gamification and work motivation:
How can gamification enhance work motivation?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Gamification of motivation is a theory used to improve progress. This theory uses the value of game mechanics applied to real life situations to push an intrinsic drive for work or learning.

Gamification is used in all sorts of businesses in today's society. It is used in fields like marketing and social networking (Boulet, 2016). A popular implementation of gamification is loyalty points used in stores and airlines. Loyalty points provide incentive for a buyer to build points by constantly returning and using their services (Fulton, 2019).

With the growth of modern technology, all types of gaming have drastically improved and become mainstream, an example of this is mobile gaming. The theory of applying theoretical game mechanics to everyday real life has emerged and intrigued recent scientists. Although findings have been limited (Alsawaier, 2018), the implementation of this theory is still being researched.

Theory[edit | edit source]

Gamification[edit | edit source]

Game mechanics[edit | edit source]

Game mechanics are rules that control how a game is played in relation to what the player can do and how the game responds to those actions. There are many types of game mechanics that make games fun, challenging and interesting. Game mechanics are always a core part of the game no matter what type they are. A list of game mechanic examples are (Seppo, n.d):

  • Points
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Levels
  • Dice
  • Randomizers
  • Race
  • Movement
  • Puzzles

Game Dynamics[edit | edit source]

Game dynamics are similiar[spelling?] in concept to game mechanics, but it is more dependant[spelling?] on the player's motivation than the game itself. The players[grammar?] motivation is usually driven by our wants and needs and that is what the game dynamics try to appeal to (Seppo, n.d). Game dynamics are (Seppo, n.d):

  • Competition
  • Achivement[spelling?]
  • Self-expression
  • Altruism

The use of game mechanics and game dynamics simultaneously can [missing something?] used in most environments. It piques the interest of the 'player' and brings out their internal drive for motivation.

But why do games motivate? Many games have some sort of progression system. The sense of progression and completion is satisfying, and being directly involved with it makes it become even more meaningful (Seppo, n.d). This feedback is powerful as it is a direct outcome of players actions and decisions, this is autonomy[grammar?].

Psychological studies on gamification[edit | edit source]

Motivation can be divided into two categories which are extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is motivated driven by an external source. This source can be either a reward or punishment. Intrinsic motivation is driven by an internal source. This is source is for personal satisfaction. An example of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can be seen in sports, you can play sports to win the trophy which is an extrinsic motivation. Or you can play sports because you enjoy it, which is an intrinsic motivation (Cherry, 2020).

Gamification is dependant[spelling?] solely on the persons intrinsic motivation. In self-determination theory, the core of intrinsic motivations are (Hassan, 2017):

  • Drive to learn new skills (mastery)
  • Free choice (autonomy)
  • Feeling that one is part of a community (relatedness)

The completion of these needs are seen as intrinsically driven. These needs are also directly linked to gamification.

In Gamification psychological theories, purpose, mastery, autonomy, relatedness, progress and suspense have been linked as variables to the mental state of gamification (Hassan, 2017). All these variable are each a method to try and appeal to a persons intrinsic motivation, and when one of these variables have been influenced, it will lead effect other variables as well (Seppo, n.d). An example is to progress you have to complete a task, when you complete the task over and over again, you gain a mastery of the task.

There are three steps to gamification.

Motivational affordances => Psychological Outcomes => Behavioural Outcomes (Hassan, 2017)

Motivational affordances is the motivational affect of the psychological states. If the game can successfully interest a persons[grammar?] intrinsic motivation and inner drive, it will effect the psychological outcome. This is the purpose of the actions, if it is enjoyable and whether it is worth it. The psychological outcomes then affect behavioural outcomes. If there is a positive psychological outcome, there may ba[spelling?] a behavioural change of repeating the process, or if negative, a stop of the process (Hassan, 2017). These three steps work in a cycle to help promote gamification

Work Motivation[edit | edit source]

Work motivation can be defined as the motivation needed to complete specific tasks to you[grammar?] profession. Whether this profession is a lawyer, artrist[spelling?] or a student. Each and every profession needs tasks to be completed for progress in that specific career. There are many employee motivation theories that try to explain the drive for work motivation. These theories are need based theories.

Need Based Theories[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Maslow's hierarchy of needs[edit | edit source]

This hierarchy of needs described by Abraham Maslow (1940) states that motivation is driven by certain needs, and some of these needs are more important than others. The level of needs are as follows (McLeod, 2018):

  1. Physiological Needs (eg. food)
  2. Safety Needs (eg. security)
  3. Love and belongingness Needs (eg. friends)
  4. Esteem Needs (eg. Accomplishments)
  5. Self Actualization Needs (eg. reaching full potential)

This is Maslows[grammar?] original five stage hierarchy. Our most basic survival instincts start with number one and the next steps mostly will not be sought after until the previous hierarchy is completed. Maslow did state that the order of needs can change due to external factors (McLeod, 2018).

Need for achievement theory[edit | edit source]

This theory was made by David McClelland in 1961. He identified three motivating factors, these were (mindtools, 2020):

  • Need for Achievement
  • Need for Affiliation
  • Need for Power

These factors are motivators regardless of culture, age or gender. In each person, one of these three driving factors may be stronger than others. Need for achievement may focus solely on reaching goals. Need for affiliation may work best in group work and strives to work together. Need for power works best when they are in charge. Which of these factors is not dependant[spelling?] on inheritance, people develop which factor is strongest through their life experiences and culture (mindtools, 2020)[Rewrite to improve clarity]:

Case studies[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Measurement of the effects of e-learning courses gamification on motivation and satisfaction of students[edit | edit source]

In a study by Bernik et al in 2018, they studied the effect of gamification on university students.

With 182 students total, they split them into 2 different groups. Each 2 groups [grammar?] would each experience different levels in their control. One of the groups would experience a gamifiied[spelling?] version of the course, this was the experimental group[grammar?]. The other group experienced a normal version of the course, this was the control group.

They found that the experimental group achieved slightly higher scores overall and had much more positive feedback on the course compared to their control group. They concluded that while there was only a slight improvement in overall scores, gamification should also be measured on the experience of the participants. The experimental group showed higher levels of motivation and satisfaction just from a gamified course, which leads to more engaging and enjoyable content (Bernik, 2018).

Some Statistics from the study
Group N Mean Satisfaction Motivational Incentives
Experimental 96 13.89 3.05 3.54
Control 96 12.03 2.86 3.02

Gamification: The effect on student motivation and performance at the post-secondary level[edit | edit source]

A systematic review done by Meaghan Lister in 2015 studied 19 sources of peer reviewd journals from 2008 - 2015. These journals had to include the word gamification in the title and/or abstract. She found that there were three themes in the study of gamification:

  1. elements of gamification
  2. motivation effectiveness
  3. impact on performance

These three themes were all common in the 19 peer revied studies Lister examined. The elements of gamification Lister found are the same as game mechanics. Among the studies, badges/achievements, points, levels and leaderboards seemed to be the most popular and effective mechanic[grammar?] of gamification.

Lister also found that 12 out of 19 studies concluded that there was a positive effect of motivation through gamification.

There was also a mixed degree of positive impact on performance. Some studies found higher overall scores, some found increased student attendance and participation and some found a decrease in the highest and lowest scores.

To conclude, Lister talks about the positives of proactive students, but the drawback of gamification as it does not entice everyone, but it is beneficial overall (Lister, 2015).

Does educational gamification improve students' motivation? If so. which game elements work best?[edit | edit source]

A study by Jared Chapman and Peter Rich in 2018 looked into the driving mechanisms of gamifying education on student motivation and performance. They had 124 undergraduate students respond to surveys. In their studies they found no correlation with gamification and any demographic. They did find a negative correlation between students and their comfort with technology.

In their study, the survey showed 67.7% of participants had increased motivations due to gamification. They also found that a leaderboard was the most motivating game mechanic. This allowed the students to track their progress and others. The last substantial finding was that the support of gamification was not limited by age or gender, most found it motivating (Chapman, 2018).

Do Points, Levels and Leaderboards Harm Intrinsic Motivation? An Empirical Analysis of Common Gamification Elements[edit | edit source]

Mekler et al in 2013 looked into the detriments of game mechanics in the workplace. The game mechanics the specifically studied were points, levels and leaderboards.

This experiment was a between subject experiment with a total of 295 participants. The participant groups were exposed to 4 levels of independent variables. Points, levels, leaderboard and control. The dependent variable was the participants performance. The participants were randomly placed in a group, in these groups, if it was an experimental condition, emphasis was placed onto the game mechanic.

It was found that the control group had the lowest performance, where points, levels and leaderboards were all higher performing in that order. They also found that these experimental conditions did not affect participants[grammar?] intrinsic motivation. They theorize the tasks must include some sort of mastery or learning for it to intrigue participants intrinsic motivation.

To conlcude[spelling?] the study, they found that the introduction of game mechanics in the workplace had no negative effect on intrinsic motivation, but simply introducing it increases productivity (Mekler, 2013).

Quiz[edit | edit source]

Lets[grammar?] see if you remember some key concepts of gamification

1 Gamification is the use of game mechanics in real life:


2 Gamification is dependant[spelling?] on extrinsic motivation:


Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Gamification of work motivation is a theory with many practical benefits. It is able to improve motivation and increase satisfaction. With the use of game mechanics, the influence on game dynamics and internal drives can be effected[spelling?]. Specific game mechanics can be more useful than others depending on the person, but it has been found to be motivating to all regardless of age and gender.

Gamification of tasks can incrase[spelling?] work motivation and also increase interest and performance output.

See also[edit | edit source]

[Use alphabetical order.]

References[edit | edit source]

Alsawaier, Raed S. (2018-01-01). "The effect of gamification on motivation and engagement". The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology 35 (1): 56–79. doi:10.1108/IJILT-02-2017-0009. ISSN 2056-4880.

Bernik, Andrija; Bubaš, Goran; Radošević, Danijel (2018-05). "Measurement of the effects of e-learning courses gamification on motivation and satisfaction of students". 2018 41st International Convention on Information and Communication Technology, Electronics and Microelectronics (MIPRO): 0806–0811. doi:10.23919/MIPRO.2018.8400149.

Boulet. G, (2016), "Gamification And Motivation: It's The Content That Matters, Not The Container". eLearning Industry. Retrieved 2021-10-17.

Chapman, J. R.; Rich, P.J. (2018-10-03). "Does educational gamification improve students’ motivation? If so, which game elements work best?". Journal of Education for Business 93 (7): 315–322. doi:10.1080/08832323.2018.1490687. ISSN 0883-2323.

Cherry. K, (2020), Differences of Extrinsic and Instrinsic Motivation, verywellmind,

Fulton J.J, (2019), Theory of Gamification, William Howard Taft University,

Hassan, L. (2017). Governments Should Play Games: Towards a Framework for the Gamification of Civic Engagement Platforms. Simulation & Gaming. 48. 249-267. 10.1177/1046878116683581.

Lister, Meaghan (2015-12-03). "Gamification: The effect on student motivation and performance at the post-secondary level". Issues and Trends in Educational Technology 3 (2).

McLeod. S, (2018), Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, Simply Psychology,

Mekler, Elisa D.; Brühlmann, Florian; Opwis, Klaus; Tuch, Alexandre N. (2013-10-02). "Do points, levels and leaderboards harm intrinsic motivation? an empirical analysis of common gamification elements". Proceedings of the First International Conference on Gameful Design, Research, and Applications. Gamification '13 (New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery): 66–73. doi:10.1145/2583008.2583017. ISBN 978-1-4503-2815-9.

MindTools, (2020), McClellands Human Motivation Theory, MindTools,

Seppo, (n.d), Motivation Through Gamification,, GamificationWhitepaper,

External links[edit | edit source]