Gamification is the exploitation of game mechanisms for serious applications. In general they target societal challenges by engaging people in game-like scenarios.
Even though there exist disparate solutions to create gameful applications, they are intended to be built from scratch and stand-alone. In the MoDiS Unit we propose a line of research in the software engineering field by which gameful mechanisms can be bound to existing software applications to create gamified scenarios.
In this research we envision a software engineering approach for gameful applications such that the game part should be designed in its main ingredients and deployed on an appropriate gamification engine. Gameful mechanisms are handled as specific concerns of software applications. Therefore, the gaming aspects would be kept separate and plugged in existing applications instead of requiring ad hoc extensions of the applications themselves.
  • Abstraction of the Gamification Design: Gamification is intrinsically a creative domain of software applications. Therefore, any development support shall not constrain the solution into pre-conceived boundaries, that is it shall be extensible. In this respect, ready-made solutions could be useful to perform exploratory experiments to understand what mechanisms to use, but would fall short of adaptation possibilities in the long run. In this context, Software Engineering can help to introduce a methodology to shift the focus of the development from coding to modelling. The goal must be the reduction of the complexity of the gameful applications development by raising the level of abstraction, analyzing application properties earlier, and introducing automation in the process.
  • Personalization and Adaptation of gamification elements: To make players active, to meet their preferences, types, and playing styles for a prolonged period of time, any gameful application software engineer must have tools to design and monitor the players’ retention aspect. With it, the more a player is engaged, the more a behavior change is long-lasting and significant. The key software engineering factors to take into account and on which more research is needed are the game adaptivity and personalization , that include the development of theories and tools to adjust the content and interaction schemes of games, as virtual environments, the knowledge level, skill, preferences and experience of the users.
  • Higher-Order Gamification Applications: the intrinsic characteristics of gameful applications will trigger the need to combine multiple games. One main reason is related to the degree of competitiveness a player perceives for herself: it is very likely that people would join those games in which they feel to have good chances of performing well and possibly win. Therefore, especially in community-based gameful applications there is a natural trend of promoting improvements for those who already perform quite well while those below a certain threshold are excluded from the start. Another very important issue related to gamified applications affects ethical questions. In fact, when gameful mechanisms involve serious aspects of our lives, notably health behaviours, mobility, and more in general personal habits, one might face the dilemma of enforcing desired, supposedly good, behaviours versus leaving people the freedom of choice.


  • Antonio BucchiaroneAntonio CicchettiNelly BencomoEnrica LoriaAnnapaola Marconi: Gamified and Self-Adaptive Applications for the Common Good: Research Challenges Ahead. SEAMS@ICSE 2021: 149-155
  • Antonio BucchiaroneNelly BencomoEnrica LoriaAnnapaola MarconiAntonio Cicchetti: Run-time and Collective Adaptation of Gameful Systems. ACSOS Companion 2020: 145-146
  • Antonio BucchiaroneAntonio CicchettiAnnapaola Marconi: Towards engineering future gameful applications. ICSE (NIER) 2020: 105-108
  • Antonio BucchiaroneAntonio CicchettiAnnapaola Marconi: Exploiting Multi-level Modelling for Designing and Deploying Gameful Systems. MoDELS 2019: 34-44
  • Antonio BucchiaroneAntonio CicchettiAnnapaola Marconi: GDF: A Gamification Design Framework Powered by Model-Driven Engineering. MODELS Companion 2019: 753-758