Gamification: The what and why not! A case study

Daniel Bjørn Janitzek

Student thesis: Master thesis


Gamification is the buzzword most commonly used by the mass media to describe the addition of game-mechanics onto mundane tasks. Experts say that gamifying a task make it more engaging and sticky, therefore increasing loyalty. Gamification is by definition turning something into a problem solving activity or challenge that is to be approached from a playful side. The mass media became aware of the phenomenon in 2010 and its success within the mass media has lead spokesperson Gabe Zichermann to believe that the year 2011 would be the year of Gamification. As 2011 came and went Gamification has not diffused as much as anticipated. This thesis contributes to the understanding of what Gamification is and asks the question “Why has it [Gamification] not diffused more”. The question is answered by exploring Rogers (1962) diffusion of innovations theory and comparing the findings to a rival theory, namely the saddle theory. Furthermore the Rogers (1962) is also used in order to gain insight to the question of “what is Gamification?”, by analyzing its social system and innovations aspect. The contemporary element of the phenomenon meant that this thesis had to apply a singlecase study, with a holistic approach. In order to increase reliability and validity of the sources of information, this thesis further made use of multiple evidence of the same information and used it to triangulate the objective facts (Yin 2003). Such as expert opinions and interviews. This thesis concludes that Zichermann had good reason to believe that 2011 would be the year of Gamification when viewed through the lens of diffusion theory. This is because a dominant design of Gamification exists and thus the early majority should have adopted the innovation, thus initiating a take-off phase of Gamification. However, applying the saddle theory the apparent information asymmetry within and around Gamification indicates that a dual market exists. This suggests that the dominant design fits the needs of the early adopters, but not the need of the early majority. This thesis proposes that in order to diffuse further into the mass market Gamification vendors need to consider changing the innovation to fit the mass market need and decrease the level of information asymmetry by continuous education. Otherwise, the market for early adopters will be saturated and there will be few other customers to diffuse the innovation to.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages121