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Designing gamified transformative and social marketing services: An investigation of serious m-games

Rory Francis Mulcahy (School of Business, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Rebekah Russell-Bennett (School of Advertising, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Nadia Zainuddin (School of Management, Operations and Marketing, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Kerri-Ann Kuhn (Queensland University of Technology Business School, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 10 January 2018

Issue publication date: 23 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to extend transformative service and social marketing practitioners’ and academics’ understanding of how gamification and serious m-games are designed, and second, to model the effects of game design elements on key transformative service and social marketing outcomes, satisfaction, knowledge, and behavioural intentions.


The research adopted a two-study, mixed-method research design, encompassing focus groups (n=21) and online surveys (n=497), using four current marketplace serious m-games. Study 1 was qualitative and the data were analysed in two cycles using an inductive and deductive approach. Study 2 was quantitative and the data were analysed using PLS-SEM.


The qualitative results of Study 1 discovered a framework of five game design elements for serious m-games. In Study 2, a conceptual model and hypothesised relationships were tested at a full sample level and by each serious m-game. Results show different significant relationships for each serious m-game and moderate to high levels of explanation for satisfaction and knowledge, and low to high levels of explained variance for behavioural intentions. The findings are therefore not only robust across four different serious m-games, but also demonstrate the nuances of the relationships.


This research contributes to two service research priorities: leveraging technology to advance services, and improving well-being through transformative services. This research demonstrates that gamification through serious m-games is one form of technology that can be designed to create a satisfying and knowledge-creating service experience, which can also influence intentions to perform health and well-being behaviours.



Mulcahy, R.F., Russell-Bennett, R., Zainuddin, N. and Kuhn, K.-A. (2018), "Designing gamified transformative and social marketing services: An investigation of serious m-games", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 26-51.



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