Game-playing, in general, is characterized by its voluntary nature, a set of goals, and predetermined rules that limit the scope of one's activity. Following this same concept, gamification is an emerging area of research and practice that incorporates game design elements in a non-gaming context to engage better and motivate consumers (Garett and Young 2018).
Most of the research on games and health has focused on their potential for harm. Exposure to violent games has been related to aggressive behaviors, desensitization to violence, and decreased pro-social behavior. However, more data is suggested to be achieved for better conclusions (Ferguson, Copenhaver, and Markey 2020).
Games also have been associated with (Primack et al. 2012):
- Inactivity and development of obesity
- Game addiction
- Motion sickness
- Musculoskeletal pain related to computer and video game use
However, there is research showing that games are being used to improve health outcomes by:
- increasing physical activity, and therefore to reduce obesity (Sween et al. 2014)
- distracting patients from acute/chronic pain (Primack et al. 2012)
- educating on self-management for different diseases such as asthma, cancer and diabetes (Gentry et al. 2019)
- training different medical professions (e.g surgeons) (Primack et al. 2012; Gentry et al. 2019)
Researchers in the gamification field suggested that gamification needs to be tailored according to the target audience and developed a taxonomy for the best game elements to be used in gamification, as shown in Figure 2 (Toda et al., 2019).
Figure 3 – Taxonomy of game elements for gamification (Toda et al., 2019)
One aspect mentioned about gamification is the need to use more evidence-based theory-driven empirical evaluations of the gamified solutions (Gentry et al. 2019; Sardi, Idri, and Fernández-Alemán 2017; Cotton and Cotton and Patel 2018).
Case study: What elements should be used for gamification in the virtual learning environments
Tenório M.M., Reinaldo F.A.F., Góis L.A., Lopes R.P., dos Santos Junior G. (2018) Elements of Gamification in Virtual Learning Environments. In: Auer M., Guralnick D., Simonics I. (eds) Teaching and Learning in a Digital World. ICL 2017. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 716. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73204-6_12