Gamification: Model-Driven Engineering Approaches

Gamification: Model-Driven Engineering Approaches

Pedro Aguiar (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Portugal) and Isabel Azevedo (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2531-9.ch006


Gamification has been applied in diverse areas to encourage participation, improve engagement, and even modify behaviors. However, many gamified applications have failed to meet their objectives, and poor gamification design has been pointed out as a recurrent problem, despite a growing number of gamification frameworks and their valuable guidelines. Model-driven engineering approaches have been proposed as possible solutions to the deficient, and incoherent, inclusion of several dynamics and mechanics. They allow achieving a formalism that can avoid many errors and inconsistencies in the process. Moreover, these efforts are necessary to achieve a conceptualization of gamification that facilitates its inclusion in applications. Three proposals are analyzed, all based on domain-specific languages (DSL), which allows users to design complex gamification strategies without requiring programming skills. The MDE approach can be used to enrich gamification design by providing a platform that involves various concepts and the necessary connections between them to ensure harmonious designs.
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The first definition to be analyzed is: “Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding et al., 2011). The authors justify their definition by emphasizing the following words:

  • Game.

  • Element.

  • Design.

  • Non-game contexts.

For the keyword “game”, the authors began by clarifying that gamification was related to games, but not related to “play”. The concept of games being a subcategory of the broader category “play”. Then the authors proceed to explain that games are defined by explicit rule systems and competition between actors of those systems towards goals or outcomes. The concept of gamefulness is described as a “systematic complement” to playfulness. Furthermore, this is due to gamefulness relating to the qualities of gaming over the qualities of playing.

As for the keyword “element”, the authors point out the difference between a serious game and a gamified application. The design of the former is of a full-fledged game, while the latter aggregates game elements. Game elements were defined as features that are characteristic of games, as in features that are common and significant when it comes to gameplay.

When it comes to the keyword “design”, it was first stated that, in this context, the concept of “gamification” is reserved for the usage of game design and not the usage of game-based technologies. As a result of their research, game design elements were categorized through different levels of abstraction:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gamification: Concept with different definitions, but it is generally known as the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.

MEdit4CEP-Gam: MDE solution with a graphical DSL that is appropriate for non-technical gamification experts to formalize their gamification designs.

GaML: MDE solution based on a textual DSL that provides a structure for modeling gamification concepts.

Gamify: An MDE solution based on a textual DSL that provides both gamification strategy guidelines, as well as language-related guidelines to assist domain experts in developing successful gamification strategies.

Model-Driven Engineering (MDE): An approach that uses models as the main artifacts for the software development process. Furthermore, it relies on both code transformations and code generation to successfully produce software.

Domain-Specific Language (DSL): A custom computer language specialized to a particular application domain.

Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics (MDA): A framework related to game development, seeking to combine game design with development, game critique, and technical game research to achieve a better general understanding of games.

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