Gameful Design Process

Game Conceptualization


This step has a more manual / technical focus. Some of the collected ideas are selected. They get a form and are combined. The game concept is generated or, in later iterations, specified. Game mechanics and dynamics are discussed and selected in an informal process. The storytelling will be developed here. There are various design recommendations:

  • Consider the time factor (How often and long will the application be interesting?)
  • Integrate elements to generate Game Experience (e.g. concentration, challenge, player skills, control, clear goals, feedback, immersion, social interaction)
  • Decide carefully between cooperation and competition, depending on the users’ needs, work tasks, objectives etc.
  • Consider player types and needs
  • Address the potential risks mentioned above resulting from the business context
  • Consider the specific context

The users’ and also the gameful design providers’ needs should be the most important things to be considered in the conceptualization phase. Therefore, the results from the steps before, which are personas, weighted/prioritized goal definitions, scenarios of the activities, decision on ways to reach the objectives as well as the game ideas and their rating are used as input for this step of the process. In some cases, it might also be helpful that end-users participate in the conceptualization process. But this also includes the risk that the perspective of single users gets too dominant. Consequently this decision should be made carefully and it should only be made in favor of the user-participation if it seems reasonable, e.g. if it is possible to identify clear opinion leaders in the company.

Tools, Methods and Links

Gamification Implementation Chart

The Gamification Implementation Chart is a tool covering the Creative Process as well as parts of the Game Conceptualization. We find it to be useful, especially if quick ideas are required. It is also appropriate for Gameful Design newbies as it guides through the most relevant questions of the design process. We recommend to print out some copies of the blank canvas to be able to work on a couple of approaches in parallel. Using post its, you can rearrange all elements if necessary.


Salen, K., and Zimmerman, E. Rules of play: Game design fundamentals.: MIT press, 2004.

Zichermann, G., and Cunningham, C. Gamification by design: Implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps.: O'Reilly Media, 2011.

Input - Action - Output

Prioritized goals
Scenarios and process models of current and wished activities
Decisions about goal achievement
Ideas and their valuation

Selection of game dynamics and mechanics
Consideration of design recommendations

(Basic) game concept