An Effective Mechanism to Promote Civic Engagement and Generate Trust?


Coronado Escobar, J. E., & Vasquez Urriago, A. R. (2014, October). Gamification: an effective mechanism to promote civic engagement and generate trust?. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (pp. 514-515). ACM.

Authors: Jesús Eduardo Coronado Escobar & Angela Rocio Vasquez Urriago

Purpose: The authors state that the purpose of this paper is to address the issue of citizen partnership within the framework of the government in relation to Putnam’s theory of social capital.

The logical flow of the paper:

The paper is divided into two parts. The first part is focused on Civic Engagement, Trust and Development; while the second part is focused on Gamification for the civic engagement.

The authors identify “Citizen Participation” as the fundamental element required for good governance and relate it to the Robert Putnam’s theory of social capital.  The paper is based on the argument that – Citizen Participation can be extended to overcome the limitation of the Public Administration and can solve a wide range of unaddressed problems.

Problem Definition: The problem is – it is not easy to increase citizen participation in governance and administration. Even though there have been significant efforts to increase the citizen participation, the lack of interest and motivation factors prohibits the participation.

Introduction to the Technology: The paper advocates on the basis of Gartner’s Digital Governance Hype Cycle 2014 that there is a potential for the change in people’s behavior towards citizen engagement. Gamification can create interest and motivation in the citizen engagement process.  It also states that the increase in the civic engagement can generate trust in the society as a whole.

Co-relationship between Civic Engagement, Trust, and Development: 

Conceptual Framework Proposed by the Authors:

The paper mentions Stephen Covey’s research and mentions that when trust increases, speed increases and cost decreases. This is the distinction between a stuck organization and a creative, dynamic, and communicative organization with serious people. It further expands the approach and relates it to Putnam’s study of Italy’s autonomous regions and describes that there is a direct positive relationship with citizen’s engagement in Public Affairs, Trust, and Development.

To strengthen the point, the paper quotes the data of corruption in Public Institutions in South America. Even though the efforts are made to increase the civic engagement, it seems that the traditional approach is not working and needs a better and a more effective approach.

Conceptual Framework Proposed By Sam: 

I believe that increased civic engagement will generate trust and that will lead to the development. However, the process does not end there. The increased development will furthermore generate motivation for the civic engagement and lead to increase in trust and overall development. This will generate innovative, dynamic and communicative governance with the high level of honesty, accountability, and overall integrity.


What is Digital Government Hype Cycle?

The hype cycle is a branded graphical representation developed and used by the American research and IT firm Gartner. It is used to represent the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies.

The hype cycle is used to present the conceptual and graphical presentation of the maturity of emerging technologies.

In 2013, Gartner identified Gamification as a trend in the hype cycle. Gamification is still in the innovation phase, which will soon turn towards the peak.

Google and Facebook are using Gamification as a tool to obtain information. It is already proven that collaboration is very high when Gamification is involved.


What is Gamification?

Gamification or the act of making something game-like is not new. For years humans have tried to make existing tasks more motivating or even fun. In ancient times, when a small group of people casually decided to compete against each other in hunting or started to keep the past record just to settle scores – they were adopting the principles of gaming.

Octalysis Model:

The Gamification Guru Yu-Kai Chou, introduced the Octalysis Model that classifies 8 different kind of motivations that can be used in Gamification. The model also points out that different strategies can be classified based on the motivation to get desired results.


The Octalysis Model classifies that motivation can be grouped in to Positive (White Hat Gamification) – Top factors, and Negative (Black Hat Gamification) – bottom factors.

Different kinds of motivation factors can be used depending on the desired outcomes. Motivations can also be changed depending on the stage (level) and based on the desired gaming strategy.



Gamification & Citizenship Partnership:

Identifying the right the motivation factors of human behavior and using them to increase civic partnership will certainly generate and increase trust.

Real World Applications: 

  • The U.S. Armed Forces spends millions of dollars on recruiting games.
  • Beat The GMAT – students used Gamified Platform to improve their score by 370%.
  • Volkswagen’s People’s Car Project – generated 33 million web hits and 119,000 new ideas.
  • Foldit – Gamers solved an AIDS virus protection problem that had confounded researchers for 15 years.
  • As per Entertainment Software Association, 70% of major employers are using Gamification for performance improvement and training.
  • As per Gartner, 70% of fortune 500 firms are using Gamification for the business.

Ref: (Chou, 2015 P287)

Public Administration Examples:

  • Stockholm: Driver’s who stayed under the speed limit were entered into a lottery funded by speeding tickets.

  • Changi Airport, Singapore: It uses Artificial Intelligence to train employees.It uses combination of Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Simulation programs to train employees for emergency procedures.
Singapore – Simulation for Training
  • US Navy’s MMowgli – Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet: It pools global players to tackle wicked problems, usually presented in an “incomplete narrative” to encourage players to come up with solutions together.


  • Modi Run: PM of India’s Android Game where government communicates with the youth of India(One way).


The paper clearly identifies the importance of the civic engagement for better governance.

The concept of gamification is based on “motivation”. Citizens are a wide range of people with various languages, race, age groups, and ethnicity.

There are different kinds of motivations for different citizens. Motivation can differ from person to person. In general, I agree with the Authors that Gamification is the future of Public Administration. For a diverse country like Canada, Gamification can be an important tool to overcome language and cultural barrier as Gaming is a universal language, the language of mankind.
Counter Argument: (Thiel, Reisinger and Röderer 2016) argues that age is a major factor in deciding Gamification strategies. It claims that people over the age of 52 are more likely not interested in Gamification as they represent another generation.

Additional References:

Thiel Sarah-Kristin, Reisinger Michaela and Röderer Kathrin 2016 – “I’m too old for this!”: Influence of Age on Perception of Gamified Public Participation – Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM ’16), December 12–15, 2016, Rovaniemi, Finland

Chou,Yu-Kai Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards 2014- 2015


1 thought on “Gamification:
An Effective Mechanism to Promote Civic Engagement and Generate Trust?”

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