Gamification and Sustainable Consumption: Overcoming the Limitations of Persuasive Technologies

December 06, 2016 by Martina Z. Huber, Lorenz M. Hilty

Access this Publication
The current patterns of production and consumption in the industrialized world are not sustainable. The goods and services we consume cause resource extractions, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts that are already affecting the conditions of living on Earth. To support the transition toward sustainable consumption patterns, ICT applications that persuade consumers to change their behavior into a “green” direction have been developed in the field of Persuasive Technology (PT). Such persuasive systems, however, have been criticized for two reasons. First, they are often based on the assumption that information (e.g., information on individual energy consumption) causes behavior change, or a change in awareness and attitude that then changes behavior. Second, PT approaches assume that the designer of the system starts from objective criteria for “sustainable” behavior and is able to operationalize them in the context of the application. In this chapter, we are exploring the potential of gamification to overcome the limitations of persuasive systems. Gamification, the process of using game elements in a non-game context, opens up a broader design space for ICT applications created to support sustainable consumption. In particular, a gamification-based approach may give the user more autonomy in selecting goals and relating individual action to social interaction. The idea of gamification may also help designers to view the user’s actions in a broader context and to recognize the relevance of different motivational aspects of social interaction, such as competition and cooperation. Based on this discussion we define basic requirements to be used as guidance in gamification- based motivation design for sustainable consumption.