This major research paper investigates the relationship between gamification and online dating sites. Past research has described gamification as the incorporation of game-like properties in non-game settings. Gamification has been applied to a multitude of domains, including the online dating sector. However, research exploring this relationship is absent from the literature. Researchers have found that online romantic relationships develop and progress differently, depending on the platform on which they originated. Therefore, gamification may affect the courtship process and relationship success of online daters around the globe. This paper explores three main research questions: (1) What are the features of gamification? (2) Which online dating sites are the most and least gamified? (3) Is gamification having an effect on the number of people who use online dating sites? To answer these questions, 10 popular online dating sites were explored: Ashley Madison, Christian Mingle, eHarmony, JDate, Lavalife, Match.com,
OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Tinder, and Zoosk. Using a series of data collection tables and continuums, each of the 10 online dating sites were qualitatively analyzed based on their launch date, user utility figure, and inclusion of game-like properties. This study found that across all 10 of the online dating sites, platform organization, platform dynamics, user engagement, and reward quantification were recurrent themes that appeared to be gamified to varying degrees. Additionally, it was discovered that gamification was integrated in more recently developed platforms to a greater extent. Furthermore, it was found that the more gamified dating sites retained a larger number of active users. This study proposes that a trend toward gamification is emerging. However, this major research paper is merely a pilot study, and additional, in-depth research is crucial to our understanding of gamification as it relates to online dating.
Keywords: gamification, online dating, online dating site, platform, play, user