The Relationship between Users' Behavior and Their Flow Experience in Gamified Systems

Wilk Oliveira, Juho Hamari, Seiji Isotani

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Modeling users' experience in gameful systems is one of the main contemporary challenges in the field of human-computer interaction. One of the most desired and complex experiences to be identified is the flow experience (i.e., challenge-skill balance, action-awareness merging, clear goals, unambiguous feedback, concentration, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, transformation of time, and autotelic experience). Facing this challenge, we conducted a quantitative study (N = 313) based on structural equation modeling, aiming to model and predict the users' flow experience through their behavior (represented by performance-related, interaction with gamification, as well as the time they take in different actions) in the system. The main results indicate that i) gamification (i.e., doing well in points, badges, and leader-board) was positively related to users' experience of good challenge-skill balance, ii) whereas it was negatively related to users' concentration. Thirdly iii) user performance was positively related to users' concentration. However, overall, the results indicate that while associations between user behavior and flow experience could be established, there remains future work to be done to fully explain user flow experience while using a system. Our study contributes to the fields of human-computer interaction, gamification, and educational technologies, especially through insights related to modeling and predicting flow experiences in gameful systems through behavior data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number386
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • data-driven study
  • flow experience
  • gameful systems
  • gamification
  • User experience

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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