Discover the Ultimate Gamification Reading List

The top reads for gamified success

Making notes from a great book

Making notes from a great book

There is a time for a short article read and a time for a longer in-depth read. Most of the JAMSO free material provides you with fresh insights, new perspectives and clear takeaway for daily life and business.

Today’s gift is what we believe to be the ultimate reading list on gamification. This extensive expert padded list delivers the secrets, unusual and helpful reads for everything to do with gamification.

We have included education, basics, and specific industry books to ensure you are covered with the most comprehensive list on this growing subject matter.

No matter what level you are, from new beginner or curious to the specialist consultant within the field, you will discover something of significant value and interest. Not all these books are new; indeed most still stand tall today as great reads and insights to help boost your own understanding of gamification.

Options for your consumption: Several of these reads are also available as audible books, electronic versions via Kindle, found at a significant discount on online used bookstores plus your favorite online book provider sources.

Let’s make this article gamified.

  1. As a reward for reading this list of books, at the bottom of the list you can grab some additional article and blog reads.

  2. To enhance your experience even better we decided to give a personal overview and comment introduction for each book.

  3. Books are one thing, what about the authors? Don’t worry; we have you covered there also. For each author, we provide a short bio so you gain a deeper insight into the possible end goals and influences that made each book what it is.

  4. The numbers: Instead of sharing estimated sold copies or average review scores in the form of a leadership board, we decided to share with you the published year of each book. The date gives you the further confidence to its relevancy and impact to this specialist field of human behavior.

  5. When you join the JAMSO mailing list in this article you gain a FREE reward. We provide you a print-friendly PDF version of this article PLUS include the full list with Publishing house names, number of pages per book and also the ISBN number to make ordering easy if you wish to pursue a purchase from your local or online store.

The critical numbers about this article

Overview of content reviewed for this article

Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards

Author Yu kai Chou and published 2015

  • Probably the most famous name within the industry, if he writes or talks, people will listen. So grab this book for some great insights.

Book signing gamified stlye

Book signing gamified stlye

Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things

Author Brian Burke and published 2014

  • Brian is a Research Vice President at Gartner, covering enterprise architecture since the early 2000’s. He has been leading research on gamification trends. As an expert in enterprise architecture, he has worked for decades on understanding disruptive technology trends and their implications for business.

Why focus on what can be done when one can also highlight what can’t be done. A sensible and needed read to share the limitations and possibilities of the process.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

Author Karl M Kapp and published 2012

  • Karl is a professor of Instructional Technology in Bloomsburg University's Department of Instructional Technology in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and the assistant director of Bloomsburg University's acclaimed Institute for Interactive Technologies.

This book has a wide range of reviews with mixed reactions yet still has good valued insights to the need for innovative learning design systems. Ignore it at your peril.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Field book: Ideas into Practice

Authors Karl M Kapp (yes, him again), Lucas Blair and Rich Mesch and published 2014.

  • Lucas is a game designer and educator. He runs his own business and has a Ph.D. in Modeling and Simulation from the University of Central Florida.

  • Rich Mesch is the Senior Director of Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group of Malvern, PA. His career focus working with many top organizations includes contextual learning.

A well-presented read with worksheets, tips and how to implement your project into practice. This is also used as a text book and supportive reference material across the industry in many cases.

Business Gamification for Dummies

Authors Kris Duggan and Kate Shoup published 2013

  • Kris Duggan is engaged with game mechanics and real-time loyalty programs into web and mobile experiences.

  • Kate’s job here seems more to create a readable narrative for the consumer.

The format of “for Dummies” prepares the reader with a brand and awareness of the limitations but good foundations from such a read. This does not disappoint to provide a good base line, note however that trends have evolved since its initial publication so might instigate a desire for further reading after.


Hooked: How to build habit-forming products

Author Nir Eyal and published 2014

  • Nir has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design School. He now helps teams design more engaging products.

This book has taken many entrepreneurs by storm. The read should be balanced with strategy and strong theory however it is a good and interesting read to explore behavior and how this can work well with your process and goal needs.

Fintech Innovation - From Robo-advisors to Goal Based Investing and Gamification (The Wiley Finance Series)

Author Paolo Sironi published 2016

  • PAOLO works with Analytics at IBM. His expertise and field within the financial sector places him with specific insights, ideas and framed with GBI (Boal Based Investing) for the fintech sector.

This is a timely read for the banking, insurance and general finance industry. For those working within the industry seeking to gain insights and trends potentially that will impact their personal careers or actual business model, and then take the time to read this book.

The Gamification of Higher Education: Developing a Game-Based Business Strategy in a Disrupted Marketplace

Author Neil Niman and published 2016

  • Neil has been the Chair of the Department of Economics at the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire, USA. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. More information about Niman is available at

This book is focused on higher education environments to stimulate and motivate students to reach new heights of learning. An important read and one that will no doubt be seen in future years as an influencing pivot point for the strategy and design of campus life for stimulating learning experiences.

Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification

Author Rajat Paharia published 2013

  • Rajat is the founder and chief product officer of Bunchball Inc.

A brave attempt to merge this field with the reality of big data and its potential. The book raises some ethical questions about potential privacy and habit formation manipulation yet a needed debate waits. This book will provide the stimulus of any business leader to personalize and improve market relationships for mutual benefit.

Gamification in Sales and Support

Author Mario Herger and published 2014

  • Mario is best summed up by his Twitter profile introduction “Likes all odd, innovative, artful, inspirational things. Trades in innovation & foresight mindset. ”

Mario can be best described as a maverick with a view. A short book with what we think an overpriced sales price. However, the content may quickly provide a rapid return on investment for a business seeking a short guide to the principles and steps specific for sales and business service support.

Gamification in Tourism

Authors Roman Egger and Paul Bulencea published 2015

  • Prof. Dr. Roman Egger is a member of member of the International Federation of Information Technology for Travel and Tourism and works from the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences and head of tourism research department.

  • Paul has lectured about; designed or implemented memorable experiences in more than 10 countries around the globe. His focus is about an experience economy.

Provides a mix of case examples and theory to apply for an improved experience within the tourism industry. This book has concepts that apply to wider applications yet draws its focus within this specialist field.

Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software

Authors Janaki Mythily Jumar and Mario Herger (yes him again). Published 2013

  • Janaki was named a Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2016 and leading TEDx speaker about gamification at work. She is a co-instructor at Stanford’s Graduate School Business LEAD course on Customer Experience Design: A Neuroscience Perspective. She has guest-lectured at Stanford school, Carnegie Mellon University, and San Jose State University. She is the inventor on over 20 patents.

The book provides a strategic framework called Player Centered Design. The five steps of understanding the players, mission, human motivation, mechanics and their measures are the core outcomes from the read.

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

Author Jane McGonigal published 2011

  • Jane is a Doctor of Philosophy, performance studies from Berkeley University. A two times TED speaker and lecturer at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.

A very accessible read with an ambitious written intent. Seeking to help social problems like depression and obesity to global issues like poverty and climate change-and introduces us to cutting-edge games that are already changing the business, education, and nonprofit worlds. Games and gaming are the keys for shifting the needle in behavior according to this author.

Innovate and break the rules

Innovate and break the rules

Gamestorming: A Playbook for innovators, rule breakers and change makers.

Authors Dave Gray and Sunni Brown and published in 2010

  • Dave is the Founder and Chairman of XPLANE. A founding member of VizThink,

  • Sunni was trained in graphic facilitation at The Grove Consultants International, in the use of visuals for meetings and group processes.

  • James is actively obsessed with understanding what things are, the way they work, and why they matter. He is also an occasional inventor of card games.

This book is packed with 80 examples to hack and accelerate motivation and productivity through gaming techniques. A great book to create change management and engagement (think organizational change, a new culture or M&A and removing stagnation).

The gamification revolution: How leaders leverage game mechanics to crush the competition

Author Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder published 2013

  • Gabe has been a leader and key influencer in the world of gamification. My message is simple, read more about him and his work.

  • Joselin is an author of several books including game theory.

A great how to start a book for those already with some starting knowledge of gamification and seeking some strategy examples for implementation. For HR and leaders, tips and how to for retention, motivation and all done with an eye on minimal cost actions.

Gamification in Education and Business

Author Torsten Reiners and Lincoln Wood published 2014

  • Torsten is an interesting person to follow as his career develops. Currently, a lecturer for Logistics at Curtin University but a has strong gamification and AI skills.

  • Lincoln from Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand & School of Information Systems, Curtin University, Bentley, Australia.

The book is divided into four parts: Theory, Education, Business, and Use Cases. A wide encompassing challenge for such a book and title, it will always fail to deliver fully. However, there are surprisingly good points, unique insights and a solid academic approach to the opportunities given when deploying at the workplace or academic environments.

Gamification: The industry’s biggest secrets revealed.

Author Tom Raycove published 2016

  • Tom has good user experience insights from the film and video game industry.

A thin and short book that seems not to have gained any traction within the community! However, Tom comes from a gaming background and offers some unique insights there. Biggest secrets? No, rather some opinions and a fast read.

Gamification: Playing for profits: A book of sales games and motivational tools

Author Chris Collins published 2015

  • Chris should have been highlighted as one of the real biggest secrets within the industry. Well worth a follow and a prolific podcaster. Certainly a key influencer within the industry.

For leaders and workers alike, this book is accessible and a fast read but well presented to allow a balance between strategic and tactical steps to implement engagement practices and lift motivation for success. I think this book delivers on its title – download it or buy it.

Continual improvement of workplace motivation

Continual improvement of workplace motivation

The business of gamification: A critical analysis (Routledge advances in management and business studies)

Author Mikolaj Dymek and Peter Zachariasson published 2016

Much more an academic read than a GoTo hands on implementation book. The value of this latest edition updates some of the key differences between theory and practice. I suspect this book will date quite quickly again, however, a key book is and reference point for those with a serious interest in the field.

Gamification by design: Implementing game mechanics in the web and mobile apps.

Authors Gabe Zichermann (yes him again) and Christopher Cunningham published 2011

  • Chris has been active in gamification and its mechanics.

The book generates a wide range of reaction from its reader base. Some rank it well, whilst others rank it very poorly. My view is to understand Gabe’s style. Take the read as a journey and insight guide rather than a step by step definitive and deep penetration set of work. A rapid read (as most of Gabe’s work) and worth some time for consideration.

Gamification in human resources: Volume 3

Author Mario Herger (yes he has written several books) published 2014

This book is targeted for a specific sub-niche yet managers, leaders, employees alike can make use of the key points raised. A light read during your commute and worthy to just grab a used copy!

Gamification in banking and financials: Volume 4

Author Mario Herger (here we go again), published 2014

I will not say this is a copy and paste of Volume 3 but for such a short read this leaves little new to be covered. The finance sector is going through significant change and possibly this is targeted more for a hungry audience than to offer a massive insight and value to banking, fintech or the insurance sectors. The wording is tailored in part for the sector but we think you could do a lot better elsewhere. Again a very light and fast read for the commute and only seeks a cheap used copy if available.

Gamification Inc. – Recreating companies through games

Authors Mauricio Vianna and Ysmar Vianna, Bruno Medina, Samara Tanaka published 2014

  • Mauricio has a background in digital business model design, user research, user testing, lean startup tools and gamification. Bachelor's degree in Marketing from Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro.

  • Ysmar has a leading role in design thinking.

  • Bruno is a creative.

  • Samara is a solopreneur and gamification specialist based in Brazil

For the number of authors, this is a very light read. The book offers more “what” insights than “how and why”. For leaders with no prior knowledge of gamified workplaces, this does offer some minimal value and can help shape the view to support and influence business leaders. This is a book of potential and hope rather than an action list and tactical guide.

Unravel the mechanics of gaming

Unravel the mechanics of gaming

Gamification and game mechanics made simple

Author Patrick Chapman and published 2012

  • Patrick has written several overviews and introductory books.

A very short introduction book for gamification. Ideal to drop on someone’s desk for hours read or Kindle download when you have 20 minutes. Clear and simple explanations of the wider structure and opportunities are offered and easily understood no matter the level of the reader.

Even ninja monkeys like to play: Gamification, game thinking, and motivational design

Author Andrzej Christopher Marczewski published 2015

  • Andrzej is a pure gamification influencer. His work and blogs are well respected although much has been self-taught.

A fantastic title for a book already puts a smile on the readers face. This is a highly recommended read for those starting to explore the field of motivational systems and game theory. A well-rounded and balanced book that is worth the short time needed to read it.

The gamification toolkit: Dynamics, mechanics, and components for the win

Authors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter published 2015

  • Kevin is a key influencer and must follow in this field. He is best described from his Twitter profile! Wharton prof, tech policy maven, game thinker, MOOC instructor, blockchain researcher, pescatarian cook, and feminist – coauthor of For the Win.

  • Dan is known in the industry as a leading figure of influence. Not only does he have a firm grasp on gaming but also in law and policy areas.

There is not much to say about these authors other than, without them, the industry would not have made such penetration and discussion in board rooms. Their influence is significant and so is the quality and accessibility of their books. This one builds upon their first book for the win in quality fashion. A must read.

Alternative reality

Alternative reality

Alternate reality games: Gamification for performance

Authors Charles Palmer and Andy Petroski published 2016

  • Both Charles and Andy are from Harrisburg University

A short read but good start point for ARG’s (Alternate Reality Games). This presents the good and bad of ARG’s plus provides sufficient insights to allow the reader to experiment under good guidance. Wider applications from the workplace and learning offer the potential for this book but lack sufficient examples and depth.

Rethinking gamification

Authors Mathias Fuchs and Sonia Fizek published 2014

  • Matias is Professor at the Centre for Digital Cultures in Luneburg.

  • Dr. Sonia Fizek is a game scholar and aspiring game architect. Known for leading seminars in game theory.

This book goes beyond the hype and into the cases where states and corporations are making real change. It offers historical context, resistance, design and how to create behavior change.

Why games are good for business: How to leverage the power of serious games, gamification, and simulations

Author Helen Routledge published 2015

This mid weight book does a good job to justify the benefits of gaming. From learning to motivation and reinforcement. The personalization elements of the book will be seen over the coming years as a significant insight into the direction of gamified learning and change. The applications move to customers and society. There are enough take away to start your own actions and embrace the learnings from this text.

Serious games for business: Using gamification to fully engage customers, employees, and partners.

Authors Phaedra Boinodirsi and Peter Fingar published 2014

A good overview read of what and how engagement can be improved. This book often lacks the details that are sought in a deeper “how to” type text reference but overall does a pleasing job to introduce and add breadth to your knowledge. Can be read by a new curious mind to current practitioner seeking key process steps.

Marczewski’s core principles of gamification

Author Andrzej Marczewski (yes him again) published 2017

Maybe in hindsight this should have been shared as a slide share deck or short video. To work as a book it remains thinly supported with notes, explanations, and details although it does look nice and certainly makes good sense.

42 rules for engaging members through gamification: Unlock the secrets of motivation, community, and fun

Authors Shelly Alcorn and Willis Turner published 2015

  • Shelly is a respected change influencer leading new technology, education and how it impacts the future. Certainly well worth a follow on twitter to keep up to her latest work, ideas, and shares.

  • Willis is a leading marketer and not for profit specialist.

A fair “how to” principled book that can help act as a check-list and reminder guide for audits and project implementation. The key focus of this read helps link communication and fun with an output of higher engagement. Some may have different rules sets but for a starting point and reference point, I suggest this is a good and reasonable guide.

Make it fun, compelling and interesting

Make it fun, compelling and interesting

Fun is the future: A collection of compelling gamification success stories

Author Manu Melwin Joy published 2017

  • Manu has post graduations in Psychology, Psychotherapy, training and development and sociology.

The theme with Manus insights is the phase and maturity of the gamification industry. He presents that it is in its beginning and early days. There is an overview of the current status and the presentation of current limitations but also the future opportunities. A word of caution with this book is the likelihood of it becoming dated quickly.

Gamification in business innovation: Quasi-Experimental research results on gamified idea generation

Authors Fenjan Franke and Avo Schonbohm published 2016

  • Fenjan seems to be still studying (according to the research I could find on her)

  • Avo is Prof, Dr at the Berlin School of Economics and Law. He has specialties in gamification.

A very short publication providing competitive spirit insights for innovation, an exploration of game mechanics and introducing the idea of effective gamified solutions.

Gamification: A motivational tool for achieving serious tasks

Author Sheila Daisy Inkoom Larsen and published 2014

  • Sheila wrote this book during her time at the University of Southern Denmark.

A short book with a clear focus on school education. A reasonable and short read for a curious headmaster or teacher seeking new methods to stimulate engagement and improve learning behaviors and attitudes in the classroom.

The Effects of framing in gamification: A study of failure

Author Florian Bruhlmann published 2017

  • Florian is based at the University Of Basel, Switzerland and is a Ph.D. student.

A short thesis paper but holds some good academic views and opinions worth considering. The bias of this paper includes more general psychology with a smaller mix of design and motivational factors. A good quick read worthy and useful as a reference item even for the dedicated professional.

Tapping into the crowd: How to create competitive advantage from the inside out.

Author An Coppens published 2017

  • An is engaged within the industry directly as Chief Game Changer at Gamification Nation. Her activities make a prolific voice and worthy influencer in the field.

A hopeful book targeting the reader to embrace technology, gamification and even crowdsourcing within the workplace. Some ideas here still require further development but overall there is sufficient reference and guidance to use as a good informative read and trial the ideas.

Transforming learning and IT management through gamification

Author Edmond C Prakash published 2016

  • Professor and head of creative technologies at Westminster University.

With the workplace as the clear target of the author I find the applications of IT and learning well justified. Not only does Edmond share the ideas for leaders within programming and IT areas but extends the offerings to wider learning applications. There is nothing significant or new here, but if you are within these departments then it is easier to understand how the tools can help.

E learning allows flexibility and changes the campus experience

E learning allows flexibility and changes the campus experience

Gamification based e-learning strategies for computer programming education (Advances in game based learning)

Authors Ricardo Alexandre Peixoto de Queiros and Mario Teixeira Pinto published 2016

  • Ricardo and Mario have a Ph.D. in Computer science and are active within android apps and gamification both inside and outside the academic sphere. Both are prolific writers.

The depth of this book at long last adds some missing meat in the field. This focus on academic learning within eLearning should be well embraced by those within the edtech sectors. There is a strong risk that much of the actual examples will become rapidly outdated due to technological advances from VR and AR innovations. However, the broad methodology and quality of writing make this a worthy read and good reference point.

Handbook of research on holistic perspectives in gamification for clinical practice (Advances in medical technologies and clinical practice)

Authors Daniel Novak, Havar Brendryen published 2015

A quality read for those within the eHealth and health sectors. This offers ideas and insights from the patient to government on how health programs can develop. So a tech savvy dentist, health business leader, patient or political leader should read this book to embrace the ideas of what can work and why tech will help improve health.

Emerging research and trends in gamification (Advances in multimedia and interactive technologies)

Authors Harsha Hangadharbatla and Donna Davis published 2015

  • Harsha is a prolific writer; he has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas and a core back ground in media and communications

  • Donna has a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Florida with a strong PR and communications back ground.

There is a broad audience potential for this above average detailed read. It weighs in as one of the heaviest books on the list but that should encourage you to read it. With the author’s backgrounds in communications, this shines through with their unique insights and well-researched views. The balance between theory, reality, and change in technology potential is a common thread of the book. Certainly, a read that despite the change in tech will stand the test of time. Certainly, a good book to have.

Face the trends and fashion

Face the trends and fashion

The gamification handbook – Everything you need to know about gamification.

Author Willie Dillard published 2016

With such a claim in the title, this book has the potential to disappoint. However, the length of the book offers time and insight to explore the subject well. The book can be used as an introduction or reference point for a consultant. The reviews are mixed but I feel this is because the title places too strong of a promise on such a deep subject. Consider it more an overview and a strong mix of insights than the ultimate handbook.

21st-century skills development through inquiry based learning: From theory to practice.

Authors Samuel Kai Wah Chu, Rebecca Reynolds, Michele Notari, Celina Wing Yi Lee and Nicole J Tavares published 2016

  • Samuel is an Associate Professor with a keen background in learning, tech, and interactions.

  • Rebecca is at the State University of New Jersey within Information Science

  • Michele is a well-cited reference point from the University of Hong Kong within the faculty of education.

  • Celina has several publications and is an English teacher at Po Leung Ngan Pi Ling college.

  • Nicole is a senior lecturer at the University of Hong Kong

The book has a focus on education but equally, applies to new teams. Mostly the focus and take away will be gained from researchers and academics within the edtech industry. However, if you are an enthusiast then grab a used copy and dive in. The collaboration between the authors shines through as a working example although not a perfect outcome. I like the focus on critical thinking and resourcefulness which applies well beyond the scope of this book and into daily lives and leadership skills.

Prospects of gamification on user engagement in Chennai: An empirical study

Author Praveen Kumar S published 2014

  • Praveen has written several books on a diverse range of subjects.

An interesting perspective with a story and influence from other prior names authors. Here Praveen looks into a specific demographic within India and allows the reader to see cases and raise questions on how the principles can be applied across other regions, nations and cultures. A curious but disappointedly short read for the specialist and curious.

Gamify your life.

Authors Jason Lovett published 2014

  • Jason is described as a freelance voice actor and game designer, but wants to do “pretty much everything”.

The sub heading of this book is “A strategy guide for constant goal achievement, high self-esteem, and accelerative life change”. Perfect click bait for JAMSO! This book is too short and was always going to disappoint. Jason’s natural enthusiasm shines through yet lacks the depth, research and clear steps to make his claims a reality. A boom of this type may inspire the occasional self-help enthusiast but they will quickly move onto another read. There is not enough substance here to offer depth and quality.

After the books get some online gamified action.

In addition to these book reads we suggest a few additional reading material resources.

1)    JAMSO Blogs, yes you are already reading and have got this far, so it must be worth it!

2)    Gabe Zimmerman is the author of several books listed and remains a strong creator of content through. (No link provided as it was not a secure site)

3)    Yukai Chou is the top name in the industry.

4)    Andrejz Marczewski has a thorough list of articles published frequently 

5)    Gamification nation produces short articles about the subject and always worth a short read.

I would love to hear from you about which reads you prefer the most, which you find the most useful and most importantly – what is missing from this extensive list?

We support companies and leaders blend the benefits of gaming strategy with business goals and objectives with a clear focus on metrics for performance measurement of progress. Contact us for clarification or answers to any of the questions you have outstanding within this new and rapidly changing motivational and developmental tool.

Last note on our introductions. We have not read every book in this list. The introductions are based on a mix of our own reading experience, online-reviews, and book descriptions. No strict formula was used in the structure, rather a more natural flow of input and commentary.

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