Balancing Game Rules for Improving Creative Output of Group Brainstorms
Niko Vegt, Valentijn Visch, Arnold Vermeeren, Huib de Ridder, Zsolt Hayde


This article describes a user-centered design experiment investigating positive and negative effects of adding game rules to brainstorms. We studied effects on brainstorm output and user experience and behavior. A coin-based gamification was developed with rules intended to improve brainstorm output in relation to quality and quantity of ideas. However, the invasiveness of a gamification can be expected to affect users both positively and negatively. To find an optimum between positive and negative effects of gamification invasiveness, we tested 5 different rule-sets with varying quantity and quality of rules. The results demonstrated that game rules stimulating competitive game behavior improved the quantity and quality of brainstorm output. Yet the invasiveness of the gamification also hindered this positive effect, due to discussions about rules and mandatory game behavior. From these results we deduced 3 types of invasiveness evoked by the rules’ qualities: a) governing rules led to negative cognitive invasiveness, b) forcing rules caused positive as well as negative behavioral invasiveness, and c) adding coins may have led to positive affective invasiveness (i.e., a playful attitude). We conclude our study with recommendations on designing and researching gamification invasiveness in real-life contexts.

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