These are the slides of my Ph.D. thesis oral defence at the University of Waterloo on June 20, 2019.
Gameful design, the process of creating a system with affordances for gameful experiences, can be used to increase user engagement and enjoyment of digital interactive systems. It can also be used to create applications for behaviour change in areas such as health, wellness, education, customer loyalty, and employee management. However, existing research suggests that the qualities of users, such as their personality traits, preferences, or identification with the task, can influence gamification outcomes.
Given how user qualities shape the gameful experience, it is important to understand how to personalize gameful systems. Current evidence suggests that personalized gameful systems can lead to increased user engagement and be more effective in helping users achieve their goals than generic ones. However, to create this kind of system, designers need a specific method to guide them in personalizing the gameful experience to their target audience. To address this need, this thesis proposes a method for personalized gameful design with three steps: (1) classification of user preferences, (2) classification and selection of gameful design elements, and (3) heuristic evaluation of the design.
Furthermore, this thesis describes the design, implementation, and pilot evaluation of a software platform for the study of personalized gameful design. It integrates nine gameful design elements built around a main instrumental task, enabling researchers to observe and study the gameful experience of participants. The platform is flexible so the instrumental task can be changed, game elements can be added or removed, and the level and type of personalization or customization can be controlled. This allows researchers to generate different experimental conditions to study a broad range of research questions.
Our personalized gameful design method provides practical tools and clear guidelines to help designers effectively build personalized gameful systems.