Does motivation in gamification depend on the intended use, or the individual

I have always been, or attempted to be, organised. Perhaps this stems from the way my parents raised four children and made it look like a breeze, or the way they drilled it into me whilst they were raising me (I’m guessing both). Because of this, I have always used lists to organise and prioritise what I need to get done. A week ago, I decided to download and trial an app called Todoist, that uses basic gamification through allowing you to create to-do lists and manage tasks. Among phone troubles (due to an apple manufacturing fault regarding my battery, which is a whole other blog post altogether) and doing my best to stick to a technological list, I managed to use the app for a period of five days. It comprises of projects that you add to your list, which can be arranged into dates and categories such as personal, shopping, work, errands and movies to watch.


A study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that even when the rewards are meaningless, separating them into categories or lists helps to increase one’s motivation to make an effort and achieve goals (Model, M 2013). Labels, filters (which can assign tasks to people and mark them according to priority) and reminders are disappointingly all only available in the premium version of the application.

To begin with, I did what I assume most people excited people do when they try something new… dive in too quickly and/or overachieve. I had a majority of the day off, and so I created a huge to do list that I had planned to finish by the end of it, e.g. start analysis for all three advertisements, watch 3 lectures, start blog post, and so on. Positive evaluations of gamification are made by those who are outcome focussed, although users are more likely to perceive gamification as unimportant if they have difficult or too many goals (Hamari et al 2018). The list was achievable, but only if I didn’t want to leave my desk until it was dark. Cue the emails the next day telling me I had overdue tasks.

One of the concepts of the application that I found different to most that I have come across is the disappearance of tasks once they have been marked as completed. I expected the tasks to stay as is, but perhaps be highlighted or ticked. This is something that I eventually came to dislike, as I prefer to see all of the tasks that I list down, regardless of whether they have been completed. This is because, as I explained in the replies to the below tweet, a handwritten list provides a sense of productiveness and accomplishment due to my preference of the tangibility of pen and paper. It has been mentioned within descriptions that there are options for leaving the task on the screen crossed out. Perhaps this is only available within the premium version although if this is also possible in the free version, the option is certainly not easy to find. I have a separate diary that I use for work shifts, events and other tasks, and for some reason (I assume because I wanted to focus on study) I used the digital to-do list for study only, perhaps hindering my experience.