Green Gamification. The basic knowledge

Term Paper, 2016

20 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Theoretical background
2.1. Delimitation of gamification from other concepts
2.2. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
2.3. Elements

3. Design of gamification
3.1. Target groups
3.2. Meaningful gamification

4. Green gamification
4.1. Examples of green gamification
4.2. Potential of gamification
4.3. Doubts and problems

5. Conclusion



Gamification is defined as the use of game elements in a non-game context. Although it contains the term "game" it is important to delimitate these concepts from each other because a main characteristic of gamification is the intention to solve real-world problems. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are the psychological basis of it. These motivations are caused by the usage of specific game-design elements implemented in the gamified application. A good gamification design includes these aspects as well as differences between target-groups and a long-term motivation triggered by meaningful designs. Gamification can also be used in ecological contexts to change individual behavior and try to implement a more proenvironmental thinking and to improve ecological consciousness. There are already different environmental applications of gamification in domains like home resource consumption, personal transportation, waste disposal and recycling behavior and others. Green gamification has some potentials to be an important aspect in the control of environmental problems. But there are still some doubts and problems about the efficiency of it. This journal tries to give an overview of the recent state of research in the field of gamification and regards some usages in green gamification.

1. Introduction

The use of game design elements in non-came contexts to motivate individuals or to engage them is not a new invention. This kind of idea was already bevor unknowingly used in different fields, especially in education contexts. Later, it became an important marketing tool to increase customer loyalty and to motivate to spend money for new products. In the last years, since 2010, the idea is spawning an intense public and economic debate under the label "Gamification". Numerous applications were developed in a short period. This trend was accelerated through the high capabilities of modern mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The variety of gamified applications ranges across productivity, finance, health, education, sustainability and much more areas. The trend connects the two sustained growing concepts of research in interactions between human and computer, and game studies like serious games. Another reason for the high interest in gamification in the last years is the popularity of gaming. More and more people of all ages and gender started playing video games. All these factors boosted the rise of gamification in our everyday life. Nevertheless, the topic is still relatively new and unresearched. This paper regards the theoretical basics of gamification. In the beginning, it tries to define and delimitate the term "Gamification". Afterward, it explains the psychological motivations behind the concept and presents the game design elements, which trigger these motivations. The third topic represents a basic guideline for good gamification design and concentrates on the topics target groups and meaningfulness. Finally, this journal focuses on the environmental area of green gamification. After an explanation, it regards some examples of green gamification and outlines some of the most important potentials as well as doubts about it. This paper gives just a general overview about gamification but represents a short summary of the basic knowledge. It is based on a comparative analysis of scientific literature and related sources.

2. Theoretical background

During the last years, the significance of gamification has gained much attention in research and economy. But the concept of using game mechanics outside of games is not a new one. These kinds of rule-based games had different purposes already in the past. Some of them had just an entertaining intention and others helped people to obtain new knowledge and skills (Kalinauskas, 2014, p. 67). But the usage of the term “Gamification”, and also the trend, started in 2010. Deterding et al. defined gamification as “use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding et al., 2011, p. 9). A similar explanation from Zichermann and Cunningham defines gamification as “the process of game-thinking and game mechanics to engage users and solve problems” (Kalinauskas, 2014, p. 68) (Zichermann and Cunningham, 2011, pp. 1–15). In general, gamification is a persuasive approach. It is a combination of selected game design elements to reach or achieve specific goals like getting attention, increasing interest or trigger reactions of individuals. All these elements are used in a frame of determined game rules (Schrape, 2014, p. 22). Although it existed a long time before, it is our today's high availability of different electronic devices and the permanent access to the internet that boosts the efficiency and usability of gamification on our everyday behavior (Froehlich, 2015, p. 564). So, the concept is not just used in the marketing area anymore, where it has been explored primarily, the potential has also been extended to important areas like health, environment, government and education (Simões, Redondo and Vilas, 2013, p. 346).

2.1. Delimitation of gamification from other concepts

The definition of gamification as the use of game design elements in a none game context is still vague. Gamification should not be mixed up with other game concepts. Although they are all technically different concepts, it is difficult to create a clear delimitation of definitions between all concepts (Brigham, 2015, p. 473). At first, it is important to distinguish the terms (serious) game and gamification. A (serious) game is a self-contained unit with a clear beginning, middle and end that fulfills all necessary and sufficient conditions for being a game (Deterding et al., 2011, p. 12). Gamification, however, just uses game-based elements and strategies to increase engagement, motivation or solve problems (Brigham, 2015, p. 473). The nature of the problem it tries to solve is real and not a fictional. So, its goal must be linked to a real-world problem to delimitate from games (Kim, 2015, pp. 14–15).

Deterding et al. also differentiate the term “game” from “play” relying on Caillois´s concept of paidia (“playing”) and ludus (“gaming”) (Caillois, 1961). While playing denotes more a free-form, expressive and improvisational recombination of behaviors and meanings, gaming captures playing structured by explicit rule systems and competitive strife toward goals or outcomes. Therefore, gamification relates to “gaming” and not to “playing”. To visualize how gamification is situated in comparison to games, toys and playful design Deterding et al. use a quadrant diagram (Table 1). The horizontal axis runs from “Whole” (left) to “Parts” (right) and the vertical axis runs from “Playing” (down) to “Gaming” (up). Here, gamification is placed in the top right quadrant between the characteristics “Gaming” and “Part”. By contrast, (serious) games are located on the top left quadrant between “Gaming” and “Whole” because they are not just using specific elements of games but rather include all attributes of a game. Toys are placed in the bottom left corner between “Playing” and “Whole”. They represent a freeform of playing without specific goals in a self-contained system. In the bottom right quadrant between “Playing” and “Parts” playful design is located. Playful design is not solely a plaything, just as gamification is not solely a game. Both are part of something that is neither a toy nor a game but serves a purpose similar to that of a toy or a game. Examples of playful designs are characterized by elements of fun and an intention to solve real-world problems, but they have neither explicit rules nor competition towards goals, which is a crucial part of games. An example for playful design is the "Piano Stair", temporarily used in some subways of cities (Deterding et al., 2011, p. 11) (Kim, 2015, pp. 14–15).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Gamification between game and play, whole and parts. Source: Deterding et al., 2011, p. 13

Finally, Deterding et al. try to summarize all the necessary attributes:

”Gamification” refers to:

- the use (rather than extension) of
- design (rather than game-based technology or other game-related practices)
- characteristic for games (rather than play or playfulness)
- in non-game contexts (regardless of specific usage intentions, contexts, or media of implementation).

This definition contrasts “gamification” against other related concepts via the two dimensions of playing/gaming and parts/whole.” (Deterding et al., 2011, p. 13).

2.2. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Human motivation is one of the most central topics in psychology for many years. It explains why individuals act in a particular way under particular circumstances (Froehlich, 2015, pp. 593–594). Motivation is the psychological base of gamification as comprehensive motivational support determines the potential of gamification (Blohm and Leimeister, 2013, p. 277). The performance of individuals and their motivations are correlated. So, when the motivation can be increased it also boosts the performance. One of the theories behind human motivation is called "Self-Determination Theory". The theory distinguishes between two categories of human motivation: The intrinsic motivation and the extrinsic motivation (Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 55).

Intrinsic motivation is more than just a form of motivation. It is a pervasive urge in all humans from birth onwards. This motivational tendency is a critical element in human development. It creates inherent interest and curiosity to learn new things or improve skills that lead to new knowledge and development of abilities (Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 56). Intrinsic motivation is defined as an urge that is behavior driven by personal inherent ambitions or enjoyments (Brigham, 2015, p. 475). More precisely, it is a motivation from the inside or from internal goals of an individual. Extrinsic motivation, however, represents a motivation from the outside or from external goals (Blohm and Leimeister, 2013, p. 277). In this case, the behavior is influenced by external reward, pressure or punishment (Brigham, 2015, p. 475).

Both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation influence the performance of individuals (Mekler et al., 2015, p. 2) and can coexist for the same activity at the same time (Kim, 2015, p. 33). Moreover, extrinsic incentives have the possibility to activate intrinsic motives, for example when an individual collects something with an intrinsic motive and at the same time gains external social recognition (Blohm and Leimeister, 2013, p. 277). To influence individuals' behavior or to trigger a reaction it is necessary to touch minimum one or both categories of motivation. If none of them motivations are activated, it is called amotivation (Table 1). In that case, the individual is not willing to continue to work on a goal (Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 60).


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Green Gamification. The basic knowledge
Mykolas Romeris University
Urban Sustainable Development and Climate Change
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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937 KB
Gamification, Environment, Sustainability, Behavior, Umwelt, Nachhaltigkeit, Psychologie, Psychology, Games
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Michael Beniers (Author), 2016, Green Gamification. The basic knowledge, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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