Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dr. Joseph November

First Reader

Dr. Heidi Cooley

Second Reader

Dr. Heidi Cooley


This thesis paper will explore the concept of “gamification,” or the process of adding layers of game elements to an unrelated subject or task. The idea behind gamification is to take what makes games fun for the players and apply that to other areas as means of motivating people. Some of the most known gamified applications are Waze and Nike+ Run Club, to name a few.

The paper will start with a definition of gamification and its differentiation from a game. There will then be a brief discussion on why understanding gamification is important. From there, the history of gamification, including its beginnings, rise, fall, and return, will be discussed. In particular, some of the very first instances of gamification will be highlighted, along with the major steps towards its current form. Then, the audience of gamification, and how they react to certain types and elements, will be examined and broken down into key groups. A handful of the most common game elements will be explained and put into context. Finally, some key success stories of gamification will be explored with emphasis on the reasons for their success.

The writing will conclude with some thoughts on the ethics of using gamification in certain instances. Its power as a motivational tool opens the door to a myriad of potential abuses and issues. Finally, a possible method, based on one of the success stories discussed, for using gamification in an ethical frame will be explored

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© 2018, Gerald Christians