Current challenges in gamification identified in empirical studies

Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


For about ten years gamification has been a buzzword in business, and for about 20 years a topic of research in academia. Despite much commercial interest in and a potentially huge market for successful products, for instance, in the areas of education and health, much excitement is still based on speculation, reception in parts of the academic community remains sceptical, and a pervasive application in many areas of everyday life is arguably yet to happen. It might be time to take stock: By collating observations from multiple empirical studies and meta-studies, this survey identifies, briefly presents and discusses definitions, aims, applications, strategies and specifically challenges of gamification. While gamification is far from being the first or the only notion to describe attempts to connect play with purposes beyond itself, this study is based on research that identifies itself as being focused on gamification. This study does not aim to exhaustively list experiences or results of gamification, or to carry out a systematic review of the field, but to collect and highlight issues that need to be resolved or mitigated for gamification to progress. It finds problematic definitions, unclear strategies, a low number of empirical studies, methodological problems, mixed and partial results, non-uniform user behaviours, a predominant focus of studies on low-level behavioural effects and short-term effects, as well as undesirable side-effects of gamification.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL) 2019
EditorsRikke Ørngreen, Mie Buhl, Bente Meyer
Place of PublicationReading
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Publication date2019
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5108-9902-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Gamification
  • Speculation
  • Empirical Studies
  • Methodological Problems
  • Short-term Effects


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