Congratulations Dr. Gustavo Tondello!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
by Games Institute

GI member Gustavo Tondello successfully defended his PhD entitled "Dynamic Personalization of Gameful Interactive Systems". Congratulations Dr. Tondello!

Tondello's research builds on what we know about gamification—the application of game elements in non-gaming contexts. He explores how user qualities can shape their gameful experience, how developers and designers are currently gamifying systems, and whether this can be improved.

Specifically, Tondello focuses on whether gameful systems can be personalized so that in a widely used system, each user can have vastly personal and individual playing experiences. Given how user qualities shape the user's experience, Tondello theorizes that it is advantageous to personalize gameful systems.

As it stands, personalization is not used very often in gameful systems. When it is, it usually behaves like a video game "Easter Egg"—something that you stumble across by chance and say "hey, neat", but doesn't necessarily change your overall gaming experience. Tondello is looking into how to make personalization more effective into improving the user's experience.

Additionally, his work suggests that personalization can be done by fully or partially automating a system that would do this “Easter Egg hunting” for the user. This way, users can focus more on enjoying the game, rather than diverging their energy into customization.

In order to bridge the gap between user and designer, Tondello proposed a personalized gameful design method based on three steps:

  1. Classifying user preferences
  2. Selecting gameful design elements
  3. Heuristically evaluating the design.

Our method provides practical tools and clear guidelines to help designers effectively build personalized gameful systems.

  - Dr. Gustavo Tondello 

To help with the final step of evaluation and remedy issues of selection and classification of user preferences, Tondello created the “Gameful Design Heuristic”, which is a set of 28 guidelines. The guideline’s purpose is to help assess gameful systems to see if it offers different types of motivational experiences.

After an assessment has been made with the heuristics, designers can easily modify their systems for future iterations and updates.

Gustavo's Gameful Design Heuristic

Finally, Tondello designed, implemented, and conducted a pilot evaluation of a software platform that will help designers and researchers create experimental conditions of a gameful systems. This way, multiple styles of play and personalization can be explored before officially implemented into the system. It will also assist future gamification researchers to discover and answer different research questions.

Congratulations once again Dr. Tondello!