Despite the ubiquity of games, this article suggests that researchers face evidence and method problems when it comes to isolating the design decisions and condition that work in favor of gamification. Based on lab and field experience related to gamification, the researcher recommends an experimental mindset and creative partnerships connecting data-driven research with real-world design practices.
In a randomized controlled trial, two groups of users were asked to play a social game but one group’s game had no mechanics: only assets like cards and playing pieces were provided. Researchers found that both groups shared equal intrinsic motivation, but one group could be measured with the unpredictable variables that commonly plague gameplay. In another large-scale field study, researchers partnered with a bus company to test a gamified bus pass system. The scale of data and anonymity of researchers were both improved as a result.
Overall, the article puts forward some interesting ideas for games-, Analytics, and UI-based research design.