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amon rapp <[log in to unmask]>
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amon rapp <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 17 May 2017 04:54:54 +0200
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*** Apologies for cross postings ***

Strengthening gamification studies: critical challenges and new
Special Issue at International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.


* Submissions are open
* September 15th, 2017: Deadline for paper submission

Authors must select "SI: Gamification" when they reach the "Article Type"
step in the submission process.

Gamification is now a well-established technique in HCI and games research,
it is a way of embedding design elements taken from games within “serious”
contexts, with the intention of driving people’s motivation to engage with
products and services. Gamification has already been employed in fields as
diverse as Human Resource Management, fitness tracking, mental health and
wellbeing interventions and higher education. Scholarship in HCI on
gamification has largely been able to design gamified products and services
and evaluate their effectiveness and usefulness. Progress has also been
made on understanding the behavioral effects of gamified elements. Such
advancements have brought along the idea that gamification has reached its

Despite this progress, gamification research is currently facing a variety
of empirical and theoretical challenges, which, if not deeply explored and
solved, risk to undermine its impact on the HCI community. On the one hand,
gamification still employs a limited set of game elements, such as points,
badges and leaderboards, scarcely exploring diverse and more complex design
solutions coming from games. On the other hand, user studies of gamified
systems continue to focus on individuals’ short-term involvement and
behavioral improvements, leaving apart other, and perhaps more important
aspects: for example, impacts of game elements on people’s social
relationships, influences of contextual factors and individuals’
idiosyncrasies on designs’ effectiveness, as well as gamified
interventions’ side-effects on users’ motivation are not receiving similar
attention. There is also a need of more rigorous empirical studies, both
quantitative and qualitative, to determine the kind and the size of the
effects gamification has on individuals, and how such effects unfold.
Moreover, there is a lack of theoretical and ethical reflections on the
societal impacts of gamification, which may contribute to question a
variety of assumptions related to games, when they are applied to “serious”

Many research questions related to gamification , therefore, have not yet
been addressed by HCI researchers. For example: What kind of game elements
can be experimented to create novel, more enjoyable, immersive, and
pleasurable gamified systems? How, and to what extent, does gamification
produce psychological effects on individuals? Is gamification more
effective than other design techniques? Are there fields in which
gamification should not be employed? Is gamification implicitly reinforcing
some aspects of our society (e.g. consumerism, individualism) or negatively
affecting individuals in the long term (e.g. increasing addiction,
escapism, hedonism)? How can gamification afford spaces and opportunities
for reflection and experiential learning regarding our own behavior?

The primary aim of this Special Issue is to provide a focus for people
working on these types of research questions by supporting reflection on
how to move gamification studies a step forward. We invite submissions
presenting original research in the form of deployed gamified systems
embedding novel game elements, as well as rigorous quantitative and
qualitative user studies, which may also explore theoretical and ethical
reflections grounded in empirical results. We also encourage contributions
that provide provocative and critical perspectives, such as “research
through design” projects, and “design fictions”, which create a discursive
space where different types of future can be explored, investigating at the
same time the present condition. Submissions can also focus on game jams,
alternate reality games and serious games, where recreational and serious
aspects are merged together.

Topics of interests include but are not limited to:

i) Strong quantitative studies on psychological and behavioral consequences
of gamification design, e.g. reporting effect sizes, employing control
groups, longitudinal designs, or comparing gamification techniques with
other approaches;

ii) High-quality qualitative studies that explore how gamification affects
individuals, e.g. in their social relationships, motivation and engagement;

iii) Thought-provoking designs of gamified applications, serious games,
alternate reality games and game jams embedding novel game elements and

iv) Critical insights on side-effects and long-term consequences of
gamification, serious games, game jams, and alternate reality game design,
triggered by real and “fictional” prototypes;

v) Rigorous theoretical contributions regarding societal impacts and
ethical issues of gamification (e.g. when gamified technologies and games
are employed for behavior change purposes), grounded in empirical studies

* March 15th, 2017: Beginning paper submission
* September 15th, 2017: Deadline for paper submission
* December 15th, 2017: First round of review notifications
* February 15th, 2018: Revisions of papers due
* May 15th, 2018: Final papers due
* July 15th, 2018: Expected publication date

Amon Rapp, University of Torino
Frank Hopfgartner, University of Glasgow
Juho Hamari, Tampere University of Technology and University of Turku
Conor Linehan, University College Cork
Federica Cena, University of Torino

For inquiries regarding the special issue please email Amon Rapp:
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