Research Insights

User Engagement in a Gamified Information System in the Workplace: The Role of Aesthetic Experience

By Prof. Christy Cheung

Shall we uphold our auditing standards when serving important clients?

In recent years, many organisations have introduced game design elements (i.e. gamification) into Information Systems (IS) to engage employees. For example, employees receive rewards such as points, badges, and trophies when they reach milestones, join in challenges, set new goals, or win competitions in work-related activities. Despite widespread belief in the benefits of gamification, studies have shown the difficulty of sustaining user engagement because the effects of game elements are often short-lived. The game design elements often fail to attract users after a short-period of time. Many users reportedly discontinue their engagement within a few months after their initial system use. System designers and developers have been focusing on making the system fun and enjoyable to prolong the attractiveness. However, Dr. Cheung and her colleagues argued that a gamified IS should not only be fun and enjoyable but also provide users with a sense of meaning, self-expansion, and active discovery. They conducted a survey with 178 employees of a global consulting company and found that aesthetic experience plays a more critical role than flow experience in explaining employees’ continued use of a gamified IS. Tools or functions that support tracking performance, visualising expertise, and competing with others should be included in the design of gamified systems.


Suh, A., Cheung, M., Ahuja, M., & Wagner, C. (2017). Gamification in the Workplace: The Central Role of the Aesthetic Experience. Journal of Management Information Systems, 34(1), 268-305.