It is Really Not a Game: An Integrative Review of Gamification for Service Research

R. Ciuchita*, J. Heller, S. Kocher, T. Leclercq, K. Sidaoui, S. Stead

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Gamification has attracted considerable practitioner attention and has become a viable tactic for influencing behavior, boosting innovation, and improving marketing outcomes across industries. Simultaneously, studies on the use of gamification techniques have emerged in diverse fields, including computer science, education, and healthcare. Despite the broad popularity of gamification in other fields, it has received only limited attention in the service literature. Moreover, the findings of extant studies on gamification in the service field are inconclusive and suggest an incomplete understanding of the employment of gamification in service contexts. Thus, this study aims to integrate the growing but scattered cross-disciplinary literature on gamification and to emphasize its relevance to service research. Specifically, we first conceptualize gamification for service and differentiate it from related concepts. Then, using a systematic literature review, we identify 34 empirical articles that reflect this gamification conceptualization and can be connected to relevant service research themes (e.g., customer participation, experience, and loyalty). Employing activity theory, we derive four higher-order functions of gamification: production, consumption, exchange, and distribution. Finally, we develop a research agenda to generate a better understanding of the central aspects within each of the identified gamification functions and stimulate future academic efforts on gamification in services.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10946705221076272
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Service Research
Issue number1
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • gamification
  • systematic literature review
  • activity theory
  • engagement
  • experience
  • loyalty
  • WORK

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