Jim Lumsden is a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, where his work straddles the interface between computer science and experimental psychology.
His interests centre on gamification and serious games, particularly pertaining to the gamification of cognitive assessments and cognitive training, with a current focus on understanding the motivational and cognitive effects of different game mechanics as they are applied in a computerised test-setting. Can gamification improve the data collected by cognitive tests, and can it increase participant engagement with cognitive training regimes?
The effects of simple game mechanics on participant dropout and enjoyment of cognitive testing studies
Computerised cognitive assessments are a vital tool in the behavioural sciences, but participants often view them as effortful and unengaging. One potential solution is to add gamelike elements to these tasks to make them more enjoyable, and some researchers have posited that a more engaging task might produce higher quality data or reduce participant attrition from longitudinal studies. Here, we present two studies into the effects of simple game mechanics on the data, enjoyment ratings and participant usage of two cognitive tasks designed to measure inhibitory control.
In study 1 we use a between subjects approach to investigate the effects of gamelike features on data, enjoyment ratings and participant attrition from a 10-day longitudinal testing programme. In study 2 we investigated the impact of game mechanics within subjects, using ad-libitum testing time within a single session as a measure of engagement. We also explored possible motivational influences on the amount of time spent testing.
In both studies, we tested three variants of the task using the online crowdsourcing platform Prolific Academic: one in which participants were rewarded with points for performing optimally, one where the task was given a narrative theme and graphical upgrade, and a third version which was a non-gamified comparator. Both studies measured participant engagement subjectively, using questionnaires, and objectively, using voluntary participation time. The cognitive test data collected was also compared between the task variants to assess the impact of game mechanics on cognitive load.