Transformative gameful solutions

GamInclusive started this month, and our first stop is at its ethical considerations. We could not wait to share with you some nice ideas with you, so here we are!

Following the idea of eudaemonic design, gameful approaches should be implemented with “a critical, transformative, socio-technical systems design practice for motivational affordances in the service of human flourishing” (Deterding, 2014). Aligning with the virtue ethics approach, gameful researchers should focus on facilitating the best life. For that, we identified five ethical aspects of gameful approaches:

  1. Voicing people: Gameful approaches must not dictate “good” behavior but rather listen to people’s needs when designing rewards. Any type of nudging needs to be disclosed, so everyone is aware of what gameful approaches are pushing or poking us towards (Hyrynsalmi; Smed; Kimppa, 2017).
  2. Ensuring freedom: No one should feel obliged to use gameful approaches by those in positions of power (such as their bosses or teachers). These approaches should have an opt-in design and proper anonymization to avoid coercive practices. (Hassan; Hamari, 2020).
  3. Securing privacy: Gameful approaches should not collect, share or sell personal information without consent. The reasons for collecting data should be stated and justified. Avoid dark patterns, such as making default those options that favor data sharing (e.g., accepting all cookies) (Benner; Schöbel; Janson, 2021).
  4. Avoiding manipulation: Gameful solutions should not prevent autonomy and self-reflection, either by distracting or being addictive. Instead, they need to focus on facilitating internal motivation (e.g., self-motivation and self-reward) (Arora; Razavian, 2021).
  5. Reducing comparison: Not everyone likes competition. Gameful solutions should not create a social overload, but provide ways for people to personalize their own journey, even by “cheating” the system. One size does not fit all, and we must acknowledge individual differences! (Klock et al., 2020)

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