Archetypes of Gamification: Analysis of mHealth Apps

Manuel Schmidt-Kraepelin, Philipp A Toussaint, Scott Thiebes, Juho Hamari, Ali Sunyaev

Tutkimustuotos: ArtikkeliScientificvertaisarvioitu

4 Sitaatiot (Scopus)
3 Lataukset (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Nowadays, numerous health-related mobile apps implement gamification in an attempt to draw on the motivational potential of video games and thereby increase user engagement or foster certain health behaviors. However, research on effective gamification is still in its infancy and researchers increasingly recognize methodological shortcomings of existing studies. What we actually know about the phenomenon today stems from fragmented pieces of knowledge, and a variety of different perspectives. Existing research primarily draws on conceptual knowledge that is gained from research prototypes, and isolated from industry best practices. We still lack knowledge on how gamification has been successfully designed and implemented within the industry and whether certain gamification approaches have shown to be particularly suitable for certain health behaviors. OBJECTIVE: We address this lack of knowledge concerning best practices in the design and implementation of gamification for health-related mobile apps by identifying archetypes of gamification approaches that have emerged in pertinent health-related mobile apps and analyzing to what extent those gamification approaches are influenced by the underlying desired health-related outcomes. METHODS: A 3-step research approach is employed. As a first step, a database of 143 pertinent gamified health-related mobile apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store is set up. Second, the gamification approach of each app within the database is classified based on an established taxonomy for gamification in health-related apps. Finally, a 2-step cluster analysis is conducted in order to identify archetypes of the most dominant gamification approaches in pertinent gamified health-related mobile apps. RESULTS: Eight archetypes of gamification emerged from the analysis of health-related mobile apps: (1) competition and collaboration, (2) pursuing self-set goals without rewards, (3) episodical compliance tracking, (4) inherent gamification for external goals, (5) internal rewards for self-set goals, (6) continuous assistance through positive reinforcement, (7) positive and negative reinforcement without rewards, and (8) progressive gamification for health professionals. The results indicate a close relationship between the identified archetypes and the actual health behavior that is being targeted. CONCLUSIONS: By unveiling salient best practices and discussing their relationship to targeted health behaviors, this study contributes to a more profound understanding of gamification in mobile health. The results can serve as a foundation for future research that advances the knowledge on how gamification may positively influence health behavior change and guide practitioners in the design and development of highly motivating and effective health-related mobile health apps.

JulkaisuJMIR mHealth and uHealth
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - 19 lokak. 2020
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä


  • Jufo-taso 1

!!ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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