Measuring the effect of gamification on user adoption of a software application
Dool, P. van den
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The focus of this research is on the intersection of user adoption and gamification. User adoption is important for both developers and buyers of new technologies, and it is a complex problem that involves many variables. A promising and relatively new way to increase user adoption is gamification, which is expected to increase user engagement and participation. Conventional wisdom tells that gamification affects user adoption via user motivation. To be able to effectively influence user adoption via gamification, it is important to know if and how gamification can influence the motivation of users. There are few scientific studies that focus on this exact problem, and its underlying principles. Therefore, the goal of this research is to investigate the underlying motivational principles that play a role when using gamified software applications. Another goal is to discover how to implement gamification in a software application to increase user adoption. The research approach includes assembling a conceptual model, on the basis of literature about user adoption, motivation and gamification. Next, we develop a strategy to implement gamification to increase identified regulation (a form of motivation) in users. Based on this strategy, we implement a gamified mockup version of an existing software application in Axure RP. We also develop a control mockup version of the application without game elements. The designs are evaluated in two ways: (i) interviews with experts from the fields user experience, psychology and communication, and game design; (ii) through a controlled experiment that measures the attitude and beliefs of participants after using one of the mockup applications. The findings in literature suggest that using game elements other than points, badges, and leaderboards (PBL) could lead to a more sustainable kind of user motivation. However, the results of the controlled experiment show no significant effect of the gamification implementation on user adoption or the underlying variables we hypothesized to be influenced. The experts find the gamified application to be more suitable (than the control version) for onboarding new users of the application. The main conclusions from this research are that the way gamification was implemented in this research does not lead to higher identified regulation, and higher hedonic motivation, and has no effect on intention to use, nor intention to recommend the application. However, the expert interviews lead to several recommendations for developers of gamified applications. This thesis recommends to first thoroughly investigate the goal of the application, and based on that to devise a strategy on how to implement gamification to support this goal. An additional recommendation is to implement one or more elements that support the user in the transition into a game mindset.