In the article Gamification - A good idea for a serious topic like financial services?, the author says:

Although gamification is one of the most powerful methods of motivating people and can have very successful results, a delicate balance needs to be found between making the user flow fun and engaging, while avoiding at the same time to resemble too strongly a real game, as this would probably have a negative impact on the trustworthiness of the financial services company (finances are still a serious business) and could also have negative impacts on the financials of the customer. Unlike in a game, the products and services of a financial services company have no reset button or no reincarnation possibilities. This means privacy, security, risk, and compliance should still be the first concern and priority of a financial services company. Furthermore a too strong usage of gamification techniques can also encourage unintended behaviors and lead to a bad customer experience, e.g. when the customer starts comparing his "game performance" with others.

In another article, When is Gamification in Education Not a Good Idea?:

Some topics are more complicated and harder to address than others in the classroom. Issues that tend to spark a lot of confusion and anxiety, like racial issues, inequality, and human rights are difficult and often even awkward to tackle.[...] Some topics deserve a certain level of seriousness, and in these cases, gamification would indicate a lack of respect. When discussing sensitive issues, gamification can appear to trivialize the topic or make it out to be less important, sparking outrage from parents and communities. If you think that the topic in question is likely to be sensitive, avoid anything that would trivialize it.

I wonder if there exists a list of game elements that are neutral to sensitive issues? Or a list of elements that are negative to sensitive issues?

  • I doubt it.....
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 8:27
  • Just defining what is a 'sensitive issue' is a difficult task to start with.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 12:37
  • Isn't that what the two articles taking about? "privacy, security, risk, and compliance", "Issues that tend to spark a lot of confusion and anxiety, like racial issues, inequality, and human rights"
    – Ooker
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 17:04

2 Answers 2


After scurrying around for a bit, I think I must conclude that No, there doesn't seem to be a compiled list like this.

It would require quite some work to maintain such a list, with both moving currents in the world of sensitivity, but also trying to list and measure something so subjective.

Things that are hard to quantify are hard to list, but I could imagine an automated system that did something similar to "Topics on Twitter with most negative sounding feedback" or something similar.

  • I think we can make one right now? By making a wiki answer and let everyone edits it. For any thing subjective, we can put it into the basket of "arguably sensitive"?
    – Ooker
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 8:58

Game elements in themselves could probably be made fairly neutral, but context is always going to control how they're perceived.

There are "fun" trainings one can take in the work world to learn about serious topics like harassment prevention and information security, where small "professional" progress indicators are awarded along the way. Participants in such trainings should never be told at the end that they're a "rockstar" or "expert" on the topic because they reached a certain "level" or amount of "points". But some training courses do create certificates of completion for the participants as a reward for finishing something that can be stressful and emotionally fraught.

When considering gamification in serious contexts, be very nuanced, get plenty of user feedback, and make sure you're as inclusive as possible of people who might share different background and perspectives.

  • certificates are definitely rewards in term of gamification, but since it had been existing long before the idea of gamification be used, I think it's also reasonable to argue that it is not something considered to be a gamification element?
    – Ooker
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 16:52
  • Certainly there's an offline analog, but it seems to fall in with participation trophies and medals used in games (sports). Were you thinking of patterns that developed with online gamification?
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 18:44
  • yeah I admit I was thinking more about online gamification. But for the sake of generalization, offline gamification is also welcomed
    – Ooker
    Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 7:49

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