Governmental Service Gamification: Central Principles

Governmental Service Gamification: Central Principles

J. Tuomas Harviainen (University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland) and Lobna Hassan (Hanken School of Economics and University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJIDE.2019070101
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The introduction of gamification of governmental services is a topic of interest to policy makers and gamification researchers and practitioners alike. Nonetheless, governmental gamification still remains an understudied area, despite the practical governmental gamification initiatives already taking place, facing increased implementation risks from the lack of guiding implementation principles. Such risks and lack of unified guidelines for governmental gamification necessitates the examination of governmental gamification from the perspective of existing knowledge to synthesize key knowledge fathered on its implementation. This article examines existing research in order to provide guidelines for applying gamification in government services. By using a combination of research on gamification in civic engagement and the Gamified Service Framework of Klapztein and Cipolla, the article creates a basic roadmap for recognizing factors that need to be considered when applying gamification techniques and methods in government services and the public sector in general.
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Gamification is a trend that can be roughly described as the addition of game elements to non-gaming contexts (Deterding et al., 2011). Despite some fluctuation in its popularity, it still appears to be a growing trend in business contexts (Warmelink et al., 2018), crowd mobilization (Morschheuser et al., 2017), and personal health management and education, amongst many other fields (Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014; Koivisto & Hamari, 2017). Nonetheless, the study of gamification in management and organization is still rare (Vesa et al., 2017; Vesa & Harviainen, in press). This is also true in the wider case of the study of play in organizations (Statler, Roos, & Victor, 2009; Statler, Heraclous, & Jacobs, 2011, Vesa, den Hond, & Harviainen, 2018). The studies that are done in these areas are sometimes furthermore still too fixed on looking at the wrong things, such as methods, or promotion, instead of certified results (Landers, in press). In this article, we provide insights for re-profiling the study of gamification in organizational contexts and especially governmental service contexts, an organizational context in heightened need for contextualized insight (Hassan, in press).

Gamification relies on the playful nature of humans. As a species, we are inherently drawn to play, even as adult life may place a stigma upon it as “immature” behavior (Sutton-Smith, 1997). Not all play is fun (Stenros, 2015), nor is increased fun the central goal of all gamification (Landers et al., 2018). Gamification attempts to induce appropriate, enjoyable psychological experiences that the users would find engaging. (Huotari &Hamari 2017). These experiences are countless, often grouped under the umbrella goal experience of gamefulness. Some of these experiences, goal of gamification, are intuitively considered enjoyable and engaging, such as experiences of motivation, happiness or flow, while others are only considered enjoyable if appropriately experienced such as experiences of tension, challenge or fear. These experiences, overall, are thought to be the reason why games are enjoyable and engaging to large population segments (McGonigal, 2011). As gamification draws inspiration of game design (Deterding et al., 2011, Huotari & Hamari, 2017; Vesa et al., 2017), this enjoyability is one of the main targets of gamification design. Hence, for the sake of brevity, we refer in this article to “enjoyment” and closely related terms, in reference to the entire spectrum of emotional and cognitive possibilities of gamification.

People can often switch between their enjoyably playful and serious mind-states, even in conditions of work and other menial tasks (Apter, 2007). In gamification, the real-world environment and mundane tasks are combined with gameful and playful design, through a kind of make-believe (Deterding, 2016). This makes the mind-state switches between enjoyably playful and serious more likely to occur than they would otherwise without this stimulus. This mind-state switch is beneficial in many contexts, as it can make people aware of both the enjoyability and the potential, external benefits of the mundane activity with which they are engaged.

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