Not Just Videogames: Gamification and its Potential Application to Public Services

Not Just Videogames: Gamification and its Potential Application to Public Services

Alberto Asquer (University of London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3691-0.ch008
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to discuss how the emerging process of gamification can impact the production of public services. Gamification is a relatively recent phenomenon that relates, in broad terms, to the introduction to game elements in non-game contexts. After reviewing the concept, design principles and techniques, and effects of gamification, the chapter discusses the extent to which gamification may affect the production and delivery of public services. The conclusions discuss the possible role of gamification in reshaping the identity and role of citizens and their relationship with public authorities.
Chapter Preview
Top

1. Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to discuss how the emerging process of gamification can impact on the production of public services. Gamification is a relatively recent phenomenon that relates, in broad terms, to the introduction to game elements in non-game contexts. Examples of gamification include Nike+, a social running game-like service that is intended to encourage runners to compete and to provide them motivation to attain fitness goals, and Fold.it, a collaborative game-like online program for discovering how proteins fold. At first sight, gamification may seem confined to small niches of web-based applications that mostly appeal to computer geeks or video-gamers. There are, however, some indications that gamification may extend to various aspects of everyday’s life, including business services, education, and health.

As a social phenomenon, gamification has been little researched so far. Some works have been done on the very description and definition of what gamification is (Deterding et al., 2012; Hamari, 2013; Huotari and Hamari, 2012; Xu, 2011). Other studies highlighted the features of effective design and implementation of gamification mechanisms (Donovan, 2012; Easley et al., 2013; Groh, 2012; Hamari and Eranti, 2011; Nicholson, 2012; Paharia, 2012; Wang and Sun, 2011; Werbach and Hunter, 2012). Other research, finally, has been done on the motivational and behavioral effects of gamification (Groh, 2012; Hamari et al., 2014; Oprescu et al., 2014). Yet, most of the scholarly literature primarily focused on gamification in the business sector, and its possible applications in the public one have been relatively ignored so far. Gamification may have relevant implications on the conduct of public administration and in e-government policies, however. As a system designed to affect human motivation and behavior, gamification may be relevant in the repertoire of the tools of government (Hood, 1983), i.e., of the devices and mechanisms that are installed and exploited with the aim of orienting the conduct of individuals and private sector organizations. As such, gamification poses interesting issues about whether it can help guiding the behavior of citizens towards socially desirable aims (e.g., greater care for health, for education, and for the environment). In addition, it also poses concerns about the extent to which public authorities may increase their capacity to influence citizens’ psychology and behavior in a manipulative way. If gamification will ever become a component part of public authorities’ instruments to affect individuals, then research should start paying attention to how gamification of the public sector can work and to what effects.

This chapter will review, first, works that have been done on what gamification is. Third section will provide an account of the principles for the design of gamification, of the core elements of gamification, and of the mechanisms of effective gamified systems. Fourth section will discuss the motivational and behavioral effects of gamification. Section five will tackle the issue of how gamification could affect the production and delivery of public services. Finally, section six will draw the conclusions, including critically assessing the implications of turning citizens to ‘gamers’ of re-designed public services and public policy processes.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset