The Dark Side of Gamification: An Overview of Negative Effects of Gamification in Education

Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 832)


Gamification has a great number of studies in the education area since the emergence of the term. However, there is a lack of primary and secondary studies that explore the negative effects that gamification may have on learners, and lack of studies that analyze the gamification design that are linked to those negative effects. Based on this premise, we aim at answering the following research question “What are the negative effects that can occur in gamification when applied to educational contexts?”. We seek to answer this question by analyzing the negative effects that are associated to gamification and the gamified learning design that are linked with them. To answer this question, we conducted a systematic mapping study to identify these negative effects. Based on the studies that were analyzed, we identified and mapped 4 negative effects and their gameful design. Loss of Performance was the most occurring effect and Leaderboard the most cited game design element, among other 11 elements. Moreover, elements and effects were linked in order to identify how these elements may have influenced on these outcomes. Based on our results, we found out that the game design may lead to a negative impact. For instance, Leaderboards are strongly associated to many negative effects mapped in this work. This result is corroborated by the psychology literature regarding ranking systems within learning environments. We believe our work may be useful to guide gamification instructors and specialists to avoid those negative effects in education contexts, by avoiding some game design elements settings.


Gamification Negative effects Education 



The authors would like to thanks Capes, CNPq and FAPESP (project number 2016/02765-2) for the fundings of this project. We also would like to thanks the friends and researchers that aided in the review of the language of this paper.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science (ICMC)University of São PauloSão CarlosBrazil

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