Personalization in Game Design for Healthcare: A Literature Review on its Definitions and Effects

Marierose van Dooren, Valentijn Visch, Renske Spijkerman, Richard Goossens, Vincent M. Hendriks

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Personalization, the involvement of stakeholders in the design process, is often applied in serious game design for health. It is expected to enhance the alignment of a game to the preferences and capacities of the end-user, thereby increasing the end-user’s motivation to interact with the game, which finally might enhance the aimed-for health effects of the game. However, the nature and effect of personalization have never been systematically studied, making assumptions regarding personalization ungrounded. In this literature review, we firstly provide a proposal of our Personalized Design Process-model, where personalization is defined as stakeholder involvement in the Problem Definition-, Product Design- and/or Tailoring Phase. Secondly, we conducted a systematic literature review on this model, focusing on health and its effects. In this review, 62 of the 2579 found studies were included. Analysis showed that a minority of the studies were of methodologically higher quality and some of these tested the health effect by contrasting tailored versus non-tailored games. Most studies involved stakeholders in the Tailoring Design Phase. Therefore, we conclude that involving stakeholders in the Tailoring Phase is valuable. However, to know if personalization is effective in the Product Design- and the Problem Definition Phase, more studies are needed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Serious Games
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • personalization
  • co-design
  • co-creation
  • tailoring
  • serious games
  • health


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