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

Robert Ciuchita*, Jonas Heller, Sarah Köcher, Sören Köcher, Thomas Leclercq, Karim Sidaoui, Susan Stead

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


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
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Service Research
Publication statusPublished - 11.04.2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • Customers and Relations
  • Services Marketing and Philosophy
  • 512 Business and Management
  • gamification
  • systematic literature review
  • activity theory
  • engagement
  • experience
  • loyalty

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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