The Design and Application of Game Rewards in Youth Addiction Care

Marierose M.M. van Dooren*, Valentijn T. Visch, Renske Spijkerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


Different types of rewards are applied in persuasive games to encourage play persistence of its users and facilitate the achievement of desired real-world goals, such as behavioral change. Persuasive games have successfully been applied in mental healthcare and may hold potential for different types of patients. However, we question to what extent game-based rewards are suitable in a persuasive game design for a substance dependence therapy context, as people with substance-related disorders show decreased sensitivity to natural rewards, which may result in different responses to commonly applied game rewards compared to people without substance use disorders. In a within-subject experiment with 20 substance dependent and 25 non-dependent participants, we examined whether play persistence and reward evaluation differed between the two groups. Results showed that in contrast to our expectations, substance dependent participants were more motivated by the types of rewards compared to non-substance dependent participants. Participants evaluated monetary rewards more positively than playing for virtual points or social rewards. We conclude this paper with design implications of game-based rewards in persuasive games for mental healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInformation (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event2018 IEEE 6th International Conference on Serious Games and
Applications for Health (SeGAH)
- Vienna, Austria
Duration: 16 May 201818 May 2018
Conference number: 6th

Bibliographical note

Special Issue "Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH 2018)"


  • Addiction
  • Gamification
  • Persuasive game design
  • Play persistence
  • Reward types
  • Youth


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