Gameful Design Process

Gameful Design

In our understanding, Gameful design means a process as well as its result, in which game elements are integrated in non-game contexts, combining existing objectives with complimentary, additional (game) objectives. This combination from a developers’ perspective occurs through the use of game elements (as tools or mechanics). From the users’ point of view the combination means creating a conscious or unconscious gameful attitude towards non-game tasks. The function of gameful design is to increase motivation for and to support fostering desired behavior and feelings by giving additional incentives.

Guidelines for the Gameful Design Process

Playful corporate software applications, such as for employee motivation, have a more and more increasing priority and are almost de rigueur. Many companies stick to gamification solutions “off the shelf”, meaning standardized solutions using point systems, awards and leaderboards. These are particularly appealing to extrinsic motivation. These solutions are easy to implement with little conceptual effort since they can be adapted for a variety of applications. They are, however, discussed controversial from a motivation-psychological perspective, for example due to the Overjustification effect (Lepper, Greene and Nisbett, 1973). As a consequence, more and more researchers and companies focus on so-called „meaningful“ Gamification (Nicholson, 2012), using intrinsically motivating elements. However, as the design of such solutions is individually tailored to the specific use case, due to the lower degree of standardization, it requires an intensive design process.

During the last years we have tried out a number of frameworks, methods and tools. On these pages, we want to provide an overview and give experience-based advise for concrete methods and tools, we found to be helpful in the Gameful Design Process. Thus, these pages intend to serve as a modular guideline for the Gameful Design Process. Our recommendations are structured in a practically-based procedure model (Herrmanny and Schmidt, 2014) that is targeted at the development process of such gameful software solutions. The model combines elements of classical software development processes with Game Design and a user-centered approach. A relevant specific is the high value of creative methods for different stages and objectives in the process. The model has initially been developed in an exploratory manner based on a real use case from economy. Due to the experience gained in this and further projects, we are able to provide a number of concrete recommendations for method selection, which are continuously updated. However, these recommendations are given without being limited thereto, to make room for personal preferences of the development team and to ensure specific requirements of the considered use case.

Since both, the process model itself as well as some of the proposed tools and methods are in beta stadium, we appreciate your feedback from the practical use.


Further information

Related research topic


Jürgen Ziegler

Full Professor


Katja Herrmanny

Former team member