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Juho Hamari started as gamification professor

Doctor of Economic Sciences Juho Hamari has been appointed gamification professor. The professorship shared by the Tampere University of Technology and the University of Turku is the first in its field in Finland, and probably anywhere.
Juho Hamari feels that survival games where people play together against the computer are particularly exciting. The analogy to working life is apparent: cooperation is everything.
Juho Hamari feels that survival games where people play together against the computer are particularly exciting. The analogy to working life is apparent: cooperation is everything.

Internationally, the scientific study of games has been a relatively small field of research, but introducing games to other fields of science in the form of gamification has quickly improved its status. New professor in gamification, Juho Hamari, has studied games in the context of economics, psychology, and information systems science, for example.

‘I’m happy to have a right of title to continue my game research,’ says Hamari, who works at the University Consortium of Pori, jokingly. ‘I’m looking forward to cooperation with companies, social actors, and students, whether in the form of thesis projects or gamification projects,’ he continues.

Gamification is a manifold concept: it can be seen as a phenomenon which shapes the entire society and culture, all the way from gaming mechanics used in services and systems, to shaping the way an individual acts and is motivated.

Hamari feels it is important to study what kinds of games or gamification forms work best in a certain environment or for what kinds of people, and what kinds of behaviours can be formed through various games. At the same time, the negative sides of games, such as the increase in negative competition, should not be forgotten.

Juho Hamari (born 1984)

  • Associate Professor in Gamification, TUT and the University of Turku, the University Consortium of Pori, 1 December 2016–
  • Key qualifications:
    Doctor of Economic Sciences, 2015, Aalto University School of Business
    Master of Economic Sciences, 2010, University of Jyväskylä
  • Key work history:
    Senior Research Fellow, Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, 2015–
    Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley School of Information, USA, 2015–2016
    Post-doctoral researcher, Aalto University School of Business, 2015-2016
  • Hobbies: Scuba diving in warm waters, heavy rock music and particularly the music scene in Pori, gaming

Hamari and his researcher colleagues have recently performed a meta analysis of the entire gamification field, which showed that the amount of related literature has multiplied by over 20 within the past couple of years.

Lately, he has also carried out a two-year experimental follow-up study on the ways in which the gamification of an online outlet changes the behaviour of people. Psychometric surveys were used to study the effects or experiences created through various gamified services, and the ways in which such gamification affects the future use of these services.

Hamari, who has won awards for his research on several occasions in Finland and abroad, describes himself as a target-oriented person who is extensively interested in many kinds of phenomena.

‘Research is a meaningful and versatile role, which offers wide opportunities for constant development of oneself as well as the field being researched. It requires creativity and innovativeness, as well as accuracy, optimisation, target-orientation, and even stubbornness.’

Usually people are excited about gamification, but not everyone. According to Hamari, a certain level of scepticism is only a good thing. At the same time, he points out that those who oppose gamification often see the phenomenon purely as a form of collecting points, not unlike the many bonus systems of various stores, and they fail to see that games and gamification cover so much more.

‘Today’s working life requires self-organisation, creativity, and innovativeness. In this case, game-like properties and playfulness are not features that imply laziness or come at the expense of something more important. In fact, they are elements which support enthusiasm. At the same time, gamification can also make tasks that have been considered as unpleasant more motivating.

Gamification can be particularly useful in activities that require long-term effort in order to offer a prize, such as learning, or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

‘I’m particularly excited about the possibilities of virtual technologies in gamification,’ Hamari says.

Text: Kati Vastamäki
Photo: Kimmo Brandt

News submitted by: Sanna Kähkönen
Keywords: education and studies, science and research, working at tut, about tut