We are hosting a course during CHI 2017, which will supply attendees with our gameful design heuristics and train them in using the heuristics on an example application (Duolingo). The course will occur on Tuesday, 9th May 2017, from 2:30 pm to 5:50 pm. It will be structured into two 80-minute units, which will give the participants enough time to learn the new heuristics and apply them to the gamified application. Finally, at the end of the second unit, we will be discussing how to generate design ideas with heuristics.


The course is structured into two units, with a heuristic evaluation session (a supervised hands-on exercise) taking up the majority of the course time. The goals of the course and its heuristics evaluation session are:

  • Understand the 28 gameful design heuristics and apply them correctly to a game or gameful application and understand the differences.
  • Use the gameful design heuristics and the Hexad model to turn design flaws and improvement suggestions into design actions that can be addressed in the next iteration of a design cycle.

Our lectures provide additional insight into what our gameful design heuristics are and how we believe they can help designers and UX professionals improve their gameful products.

Lecture: Introduction to Gameful Design Heuristics

Heuristics are principles or broad (usability) guidelines that have been used to design and evaluate interactive systems, but our set of heuristics is aimed at enabling interaction designers to identify gaps in a gameful system’s design. We will introduce the 12 heuristics dimensions and the three categories that they are split into: intrinsic motivationextrinsic motivation, and context-dependent heuristics, explaining their origins in the gamification and psychology literature.

Lecture: Turning Heuristics into Design Actions

While the complete set of our heuristics represents the best scenario that a gameful application can be developed in, we must consider design scenarios where some heuristics might not apply or are more difficult to transition into design imperatives. A system might be able to accomplish its goals without implementing all the heuristics, in the same way, that a game does not need to include all existing game mechanics to be enjoyable. We are planning to present some edge cases and some clear mapping of heuristics into gameful designs.


Tuesday, 9th May 2017
Unit 1
2:30 – 2:50pm Lecture: Introduction to Gameful Design Heuristics (Tondello)
2:51 – 3:10pm Familiarizing with the Duolingo app and Discussion
3:11 – 3:20pm Heuristics Briefing and Handout
3:21 – 3:50pm Supervised heuristics evaluation session with Duolingo
Unit 2
4:30 – 4:35pm Recap
4:36 – 5:00pm Continue the supervised heuristics evaluation session
5:01 – 5:20pm Lecture: Turning heuristics into design actions (Tondello)
5:21 – 5:50pm Discussion of possible design action outcomes of heuristics session


This course introduces a novel set of heuristics used to evaluate gameful applications and gameful design, so an interest in either games and playful interaction is helpful for participants interested in the course. Given that these heuristics are aimed at people working with real-world designs, we invite industrial and academic HCI researchers, designers, and user experience professionals to participate. The course is particularly useful for people interested in game design and user experience evaluation.


Gustavo Fortes Tondello

Ph.D. Student in Personalized Health Gamification

Gustavo F. Tondello, M.Sc., is a Ph.D. student at the HCI Games Group, University of Waterloo, Canada with a main interest in gamification and games for health and learning. He has been investigating several topics related to the design, evaluation, and personalization of serious games and gamified applications, particularly regarding the application of player or user typologies in games and gamification. He has evaluated games professionally and has been teaching Computer Science courses at the University of Waterloo as part of his graduate studies.

Lennart Nacke

Director of the HCI Games Group

Lennart E. Nacke, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor for Human-Computer Interaction and Game Design at the University of Waterloo. He has many years of experience serving on the SIGCHI program and steering committees and teaching University graduate classes on HCI research methods. Dr. Nacke has co-organized many workshops for CHI over the past five years; he also chaired the CHI PLAY 2014 and Gamification 2013 conferences, served as technical program co-chair for CHI PLAY 2015, and served as the CHI Games and Play subcommittee co-chair for CHI 2017, and is currently the chair of the CHI PLAY steering committee.


You must register for the Course through the CHI 2017 registration process.