Tailored gamification: A review of literature

The corpus of research about the effects of gamification on people’s motivations and behavior have been on the rise (Koivisto & Hamari, 2019). This has been a tremendously positive development in the field of gamification, which has called for more rigorous basic research for the area (Rapp et al., 2019). However, along with this growth of empirical literature, it has also become apparent that users’ individual attributes, contextual, and domain specific factors may moderate how gamification works. But how do these characteristics influence our personal experience while interacting with gamification? And can gamification design improve this experience based on them? These are questions that literature aims to address by employing tailoring methods (such as personalization, adaptation, and recommendation) to best suit one’s needs rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. Given many studies were published regarding ways to tailor gamification in the past few years, we wonder: What is the state-of-the-art of this emerging trend?

Thus, this comprehensive systematic review identified 42 studies that described tailoring methods, evaluation procedures, outcomes, and contexts while suggesting game elements for certain user characteristics. Regarding the methods, most studies are still discussing what characteristics should be considered and modeled, instead of how to implement tailored gamification within computational systems. Given this little actual implementation of tailored gamification, it is not surprising that most techniques aimed to describe, correlate, and test the suitable game elements to each user through statistical methods. Of the 33 studies that conducted any empirical evaluation, procedures primarily included surveys and questionnaires to understand the effects of tailored gamification, especially regarding users’ motivation and persuasion. Overall, tailored gamification is mainly investigated in the educational context, with some studies within generic, health, academic, ecology, government, and services application domains.

The most explored game elements include customization, badges, challenges, levels, competition, and leaderboards. Player typologies (which classify users according to their game preferences), gender, and personality traits, were the dominant user characteristics analyzed by the literature. Still, most studies focused on a single characteristic. Check out the suggested game elements for each profile in the interactive chart below:

The results reaffirm the importance of considering the user profile in gamification design since no game element was suggested regardless of the user characteristic (i.e., there is no silver bullet). Besides providing relevant insights by discussing how literature is unfolding, we presented several gaps and trends yet to be tackled by future research. For instance, we suggest further investigation about using other bases (rather than solely the user profile) for the tailoring process, and about the impact of application domains in these game element suggestions. More empirical studies are required to understand the imbalance in the suggested game elements, to analyze multiple characteristics simultaneously, and investigate neutral and adverse effects. Also, the current tailoring process is based on user models that rely on explicit input in their first contact with the system, without employing dynamic modeling to understand how gamification could consider how we change over time and how the interaction evolves. Similarly, there is plenty of space to explore how tailored gamification could be automated by the system, which would promote a more prompt response for users.

Tailored gamification: A review of literature

Ana Carolina Tomé Klock

Isabela Gasparini

Marcelo Soares Pimenta

Juho Hamari

Reference: Klock, A. C. T., Gasparini, I., Pimenta M. S., & Hamari, J. (2020). Tailored gamification: A review of literature. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 144, 1–22. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2020.102495

See the paper for full details:




Gamification is increasingly becoming a pertinent aspect of any UI and UX design. However, a canonical dearth in research and application of gamification has been related to the role of individual differences in susceptibility to gamification and its varied designs. To address this gap, this study reviews the extant corpus of research on tailored gamification (42 studies). The findings of the review indicate that most studies on the field are mostly focused on user modeling for a future personalization, adaptation, or recommendation of game elements. This user model usually contains the users’ preferences of play (i.e., player types), and is mostly applied in educational settings. The main contributions of this paper are a standardized terminology of the game elements used in tailored gamification, the discussion on the most suitable game elements for each users’ characteristic, and a research agenda including dynamic modeling, exploring multiple characteristics simultaneously, and understanding the effects of other aspects of the interaction on user experience.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.