#Gamification Research – In Scholarly Journals, Trade Journals, and Twitter

Dear Reader,

I know that you are still in recovery from my super challenging piece on Culture and Diversity, take heart!  This one less challenging 🙂

Gamification is a word that has been getting used more often over the past four years.  The ISTE conference over the past two years has had several different sessions about gamification and how teachers can use this in the classroom.  After leaving the conference in the summer of 2015, I changed my high school calculus course into a gamification model.  I created a market, an economy, paths for the students to follow, and video lessons.  When I started working on my doctorate, I knew that I wanted to know more about gamification: what could I have done better, can I create something that would benefit others, and does it really work?  The purpose of this study is to provide an analysis of conversations regarding gamification as reflected in scholarly research, trade publications, and social media.



Search term for the research was gamifi* and was done in the SSCI Database and I selected a topic search of articles only.  Information from this search was downloaded at a .txt file and that was uploaded to Google sheets.  The data was sorted by several different metrics: author, country of origin, organization, language, document type, research area, source titles and Web of Science Categories.  On a separate sheet there was a chart that showed the number of published items from 2009 to 2015 and a chart that showed the number of citations during the same time.  There is also a table that shows some statistics about citations.  On a third sheet the data from SSCI was organized by author, title, abstract, research type, sample group, and research questions/findings/purpose.

The Proquest Database was used for the searching in trade publications.  The exact search phrase was: ab(gamif*) AND ti(gamif*) AND stype.exact(“Trade Journals”).  The search was downloaded as a .txt file and uploaded to Google sheets.  The data was organized by title, author, abstract, place of publication, publication date, publication title, year, volume, subject classifications, and subject terms.


The website FollowTheHashtag.com was used to search Twitter over a 15 day period,  for the phrase “#Gamification OR #gamification.”  Resulting statistics included total tweets, total audience, contributors, measured time, total impressions, impressions/audience, tweets/contributor, frequency, location, gender, top tweets, and top users.

The discussion of gamification since 2011 in research,  since 2009 in trade literature, and over 21 days in the spring of 2015 on Twitter resulted in the following data:


Year Number of Articles Citations Country %
2009 1 5 United States 37.6%
2010 0 5 Spain 8.2%
2011 2 21 Australia 7.01%
2012 7 25 Canada 7.01%
2013 27 56 England 7.01%
2014 52 110


Trade Publications

Year Number of Articles Country of Publication (Number)
2011 13 United States (30)
2012 35 United Kingdom (3)
2013 47 Singapore (2)
2014 47 Australia (1)



Total Days Total Tweets Total Impressions Impression/Person Tweets/Contributor
15 10,243 36,227,271 2.73 1.97


The growth of the term gamification has increased significantly over the past several years across the three different areas of publication.  The growth of the number of articles and citations from research over the past few years is growing exponentially.  The number of articles coming from trade journals has shown an increase as well, although there was no increase in the number of articles from 2013 to 2014.  It was not possible to pull data from a multi year time period, but a review of a fifteen day time period shows that there were over 10,000 tweets with over 36 million total impressions.  The print sources were primarily located in the United States and western Europe, specifically the United Kingdom and Spain.  The tweets from the fifteen day time period are shown in Figure 1.  Twitter has also shown large amounts of activity from the same countries and regions where research and trade publications originated.

Figure 1 (Followthehashtag.com)

The search of gamification in scholarly articles pulled up articles that were tagged with several different subject terms that were centered around computers.  The Social Sciences Citation Index has over 250 subject headings that journals can be tagged into and it is not uncommon for journals to be in multiple subject areas.  The trade publications were tagged with a variety of subject terms that fell into several different areas.  The search of Twitter pulled in the top words associated with gamification that were inside each tweet.


Research Subject Terms Trade Subjects Top Twitter Words Top Twitter Hashtags
Computer Science Marketing Business #gamification, #Gamification,
Psychology Games Success #edtech
Information Science/Library Science Behavior Heres #elearning
Education Research Sporting Goods Program #ForosTelefonica
Telecommunications Computer & Video Games Signs #iOS
General Internal Medicine Employees Gamification #iPhone
Engineering Baseball Game #bitcoin
Communications Golf Equipment Games #gbl
Public Environmental Occupational Health Racquetball & Squash #gamifyHR
Health Care Sciences Services Social Networks
Business Economics
Cultural Studies


There is not much overlap between the three different areas in terms of related subject keyword terms.  The subject term games is in trade and Twitter, but not specifically mentioned in research, although computer science is and games typically fall in that category.  Business is listed in both research and Twitter, but not specifically mentioned in trade, however marketing is a key term and business and marketing are closely related.  The trade subject terms had several different sports terms, while neither research or gamification had any reference to specific sports.  The Twitter hashtags reveal where gamification is being associated by grouping tweets together that have the same hashtag.  One of the hashtags, #gamifyHR, would associate with gamifying human resources.  This would go along with business theory.  The hashtag #edtech is associated with educational technology.  Technology and #iOS (iPhone/iPad operating system) would go with computer science from the research category.  The hashtag #gbl is usually associated with game based learning.  Games would fall into all of the categories except for research.  The education from educational technology and the learning from game based learning would fall under the education research in the research category.  The hashtag #elearning is usually associated with e-learning and could also fall into the education research category.

When comparing all three categories together in one large conversation, there does appear to be some overlap.  None of the authors that had contributed research were listed in the trade publications or on Twitter.  Gamification in the research was focused on using game-like mechanics to change behavior of the consumer/student/employee and the results of those studies were mixed.  The trade publications looked at gamification through several different lenses – using gamification with different applications or websites to engage users, or how to use gamification in business to help business be more efficient or attract more customers.  Twitter crosses both of these with its references to education and human resources.

The results from the research were very mixed, some studies showed that gamification did not have any impact, while others showed increases in a specific outcome (grades or participation).  The increase in the number of trade publications and the number of tweets containing gamification indicate that there is a lot of interest in this topic.  Research into using a well designed gamification system in an educational setting would help determine is this can be useful to teachers and students.  Research into the data from credit card companies and the gamification that they have used with their products would be interesting.  Has this changed spending habits?  What are the key aspects that drive the consumer?  Has gamification increased the number of consumers?  There is also a need to look at companies that have gamified their human resources, does this make a difference?  Are employees more motivated or happy in a gamified system?

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