Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Tom Gillan 

MSc User Experience Design

Hello, I’m Tom, a designer who likes to design useful things for people. I have a background in visual communications design and have worked as a graphic designer and a UX designer. The course provided a fantastic practical setting to finesse a range of UX methodologies toward creating and refining impactful design solutions. My final research project investigated the potential of gamification to motivate civic engagement. You can see some highlights of my research project below and can check out my website for a more detailed look at some of the work I completed throughout the course.

Thesis title: An evaluation of the effects of gamification on intrinsic motivation in the context of crowdsourced civic engagement.

Research indicates that civic engagement has been declining in recent years and that there is potential for gamified e-participation tools to increase user motivation to participate in civic engagement. This study investigates the effect of gamification on user intrinsic motivation in the domain of a crowdsourced civic engagement app. A between groups test was run to evaluate two prototypes, one containing gamification and one without gamification.

Research gap

A decreasing trend in civic and political engagement and motivation levels amongst first world countries prompted the question: How can we make it easier than before for people to engage in civic activities? And can we increase their motivation to take part?

Project methodology

The project compared a simple social media app and a more complex gamified version of the same app to investigate whether gamification would increase participant motivation within the context of civic engagement. The project utilised the design thinking framework and emphasised early participant involvement in initial user research and the testing and design of the gasified prototype.

Analysis and results

A mixed-methods approach was taken to evaluate the results, consisting of user testing, quantitative scales and qualitative questionnaire and interviews. The study found that interacting with a gamified version of the app made no difference to participants' intrinsic motivation; Despite this lack of difference in results, both prototypes were found to be intrinsically motivating. Qualitative analysis established that gamification in this domain may drive some users away from civic engagement platforms, and a degree of caution ought to be exercised when considering implementing gamification in the context of civic engagement.