LocalFun: Spreading Local Culture to Tourists with Gamification System on Mobile Phones

Advisor: Ray-I Chang

GitHub | Slide


In my senior year in college, I self-motivated studied “Gamification” and purposed an engagement loops for improving travel planning experiences under Prof. Ray-I Chang’s instruction as my undergraduate research.

I loved backpacking and I found backpackers spent much time on planning trips and asked others for a reference route. Besides, I was also a game lover and I experienced how powerful a game can motivate players to achieve goals. As a result, I want to design an application with game elements to shorten backpackers time by encouraging people to proactively share information with them.

Demo screenshots


For creating the mechanism, I read through papers regarding Gamification. One of the impressive research pointed out the potential long-term negative impact of gamification. According to a meta-analysis by Deci, Koestner, and Ryan of 128 studies, the result showed that almost all forms of rewards reduced internal motivation and they concluded that “how to facilitate people’s understanding the importance of the activity to themselves and thus internalizing its regulation, so they will be self-motivated to perform it.”

Based on the research, I started designing from asking “what” and “why” to find resonating rewards which can raise internal motivation. I found backpackers are eager to find special spots like the secret side of a city. I also learned that the special spots information is usually provided by local residents or shopkeepers. Thus, I designed the system involved the three roles with different reward mechanism for each of them. First, the shopkeepers can create fun tasks to attract prospective customers and earn reputations from backpackers’ reviews. Second, the local residents can promote their lovely city and earn tips by providing recommend routes and in-person charged local tour service. When backpackers complete the task or meet local tour, they can earn virtual points and physical coupons provided by shopkeepers.

I presented the prototype application and the “win-win” engagement loop I designed which exceeded our professor’s expectation and result in an A+ for the project. The experience made me realize that no matter what approach designers are going to use, the connection between the approach and the user is indispensable.


  1. Deterding, S., Khaled, R., Nacke, L., & Dixon, D. Gamification: Toward a definition. In Proc. CHI 2011, ACM Press (2011).
  2. Brain Burke. Gamification Trends and Strategies to Help Prepare for the Future. Gartner, Inc

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