Optimising gamification using constructive competition and videogames

FEATHERSTONE, Mark (2022). Optimising gamification using constructive competition and videogames. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00501


This thesis is concerned with the use of gamification to make studying more fun. Games are designed to be compulsive and enjoyable, so if we can apply game design principles to studying then it might increase student engagement. Gamification is the name given to this concept and describes how some game design principles (like points, leaderboards, competition, rewards, etc.) can be applied generically to non-gaming, real-world activities, like studying. Many commonly used game design principles, like those mentioned, are extrinsic motivators. For example, scoring points has nothing to do with learning times tables, but points can be used to motivate someone to learn maths. Extrinsic motivation like this can have negative side effects as people may feel pressure or stress, which can then reduce the inherent enjoyment of the activity. The joy of learning, the pleasure of practicing some skill, is known as intrinsic motivation. Some activities do not rely on intrinsic motivation; consider a worker performing a task that requires no creativity or imagination, something that can be learnt by rote. However, many activities require inquisitiveness and creativity, a key feature of intrinsic motivation; consider a student learning a new subject in a school. In these situations, great care must be taken when using extrinsic motivation (a key part of gamification) such that it does not reduce someone’s intrinsic motivation. Historically, this was not well understood and gamification was used inappropriately in environments such as schools where reductions in intrinsic motivation could not be tolerated (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001). In an education setting, where there are concerns around intrinsic motivation, anda gamification approach could feel ‘tacked on’; custom designed educational games are often preferred as they can capture the essence of the activity directly. Therefore they are usually seen as more beneficial and less prone to reducing intrinsic motivation, but are often expensive and inflexible (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2005). Gamification can be cheaper, more flexible and easier to embed within existing learning activities (Sebastian Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011).In these studies, gamification with constructive competition was used to engagestudents, without using extrinsic motivational levers (e.g. real-world reward and compulsory participation) that may reduce intrinsic motivation. This thesis provides a theoretical and empirical exploration of “constructive competition”: design techniques that seek to minimise gamification’s negative effect on intrinsic motivation. Two studies are described which detail the development of a new approach to gamification design based on constructive competition and its use in classes with computing students. A mobile gamification application called 'Unicraft' was developed to investigate these ideas, and the results of the studies suggest that it is possible to design for constructive competition and create positive gamification experiences. Full results and implications are presented, providing guidelines on gamification design best practice, development methodology and an example technical implementation using mobile devices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Roast, Chris [0000-0002-6931-6252]
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Chris Roast
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00501
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 15:28
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 15:18
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31454

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