Gameful Design Process

Stakeholder and Objective Analysis


First of all, the stakeholders of the planned gameful design service or application have to be identified. Typically, these are companies providing the gameful application to, e.g., their employees and the users of the gameful design (e.g. employees) and in some cases further stakeholders.

After identifying the stakeholders, their different objectives are examined. Regarding the gameful design providers, this can be economic, social or other goals. As these objectives are explicit and consequently easy to express, they are collected by questionnaire or interview with direct questions. When formulating the corresponding questions, two things have to be considered. First, the goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive, according to the SMART model. Secondly, an appropriate level of detail of the goal definition has to be found. A level that has been set too low would probably lead to the one basic business goal profit maximization. With a level set too high, the goals could be too detailed and consequently there would be too many goals which already imply strict expectations of how to solve the given problem. The right level to build an adequate basis for the design process can vary from case to case and has to be decided ad hoc. Moreover, the current ways (or at least attempts) to reach these objectives are asked in the interview.

To get an adequate basis for the subsequent steps of the gameful design development process, the questions are asked with regard to the actual opinion about the application, problems with the application, public requirements and optimization proposals. The data gathered from the company's management are collected in a text document. Depending on the results, these data are integrated in scenarios or formal goal definitions with priorities. Especially, if the goals have been formulated rather subtly in the interviews with the stakeholders, it is recommended to validate the scenarios and goal definitions with the stakeholders.

The data collection regarding the users covers their objectives as well as a user analysis, as usual in software engineering. The user analysis includes issues of the daily work of the users as well as their gaming experience (via questionnaire). Investigating this, one has to be careful not to take the results at face value because the answers might be biased by fears, specific objectives, loyalty and confidentiality. Based on the results of the user analysis, personas typical for the user group are developed.

The users’ objectives can be economical, physical, social or psychological needs, e.g. the need to play as described by McGonigal. Moreover, they can be explicit or implicit. Consequently, some of the users’ needs and objectives can be examined by addressing them directly in interviews and/or focus groups, others have to be uncovered through psychological questionnaires. From the focus groups and through questionnaires also information about the work context, the corporation culture and social relationships are collected, which are needed in the following step of the process.

With respect to the gameful aspect of the developed application, the questionnaire BrainHex is implemented in the process. The results are the basis for further steps of the development process.

Tools, Methods and Links


Bateman, C., Lowenhaupt, R., Nacke, L. E. "Player typology in theory and practice," Proceedings of DiGRA, 2011.

Doran, G. T. "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives," Management Review, vol. 70, no. 11 (AMA Forum), pp. 35–36, 1981.

Hacker, Winfried; Fritsche, Birgit; Richter, Peter; Iwanowa, Anna: Tätigkeitsbewertungssystem TBS : Verfahren zur Analyse, Bewertung und Gestaltung von Arbeitstätigkeiten. Zürich: vdf, 2003 (ISBN 978-3728120793).

Hackman, Richard; Oldham, Greg R.: Development of the job diagnostic survey. In: Journal of Applied Psychology 60 (1975) 2, S. 159 - 170.

Ilardi, B. C., Leone, D., Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M. "Employee and Supervisor Ratings of Motivation: Main Effects and Discrepancies Associated with Job Satisfaction and Adjustment in a Factory Setting," Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 23, no. 21, pp. 1789-1805, 1993.

McGonigal, J. Reality is Broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world.: Penguin books, 2011.

Input - Action - Output

Briefing/task description

Questionnaire/interview with the company

Interview/focus group and (psychological) questionnaires with stuff in order to retrieve goals, problems, work context, enterprise culture, users' demands, game experience etc.

Bug reports
Evaluation results