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Gamification

I spent much of the last couple of weeks heads down with colleagues finishing up a paper on survey gamification for the ESOMAR Congress. We wanted to test whether the claims made for gamification are born out empirically. Betty Adamou has done a pretty good job of succinctly summarizing the arguments and methods here but it mostly seems to come down to respondent engagement.

The idea of gamification in research seems to mean different things to different people. From what I've seen there are three principal applications:

First, incorporating game elements—a story, a challenge, animation, rewards, etc.-- into surveys. Maybe the game is integral to the survey topic and maybe not. In our case it wasn't and we found few of the benefitSuper-mario-bross that others have claimed. (For more on that you will have to come to Amsterdam.) 

The second involves changing the survey altogether and posing questions in more game-like ways. Jon Puleston has been an articulate spokesman for this approach.  In one of his examples he suggests that instead of asking "What is your favorite food?" you ask the respondent to imagine that s/he is on death row to be executed the next day and to describe what s/he wants as a last meal. I agree that many people might find that a much more interesting question but it also is measuring a fundamentally different construct. This approach would seem to require a lot of careful thought and pretesting to understand exactly what's being measured and how it relates to the client's business problem.

The third application is use of problem-solving games in qual groups. I've not seen much about it but it strikes me as the most intriguing of the three, although I confess that I'm not a quali.

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