Playertypes at Children: LOUISA Part 2

Britta Karn

In our last blog post on the LOUISA project, we went into what the project is all about and what the goals are. In this blog post, we want to shed some light on the start of the practical work and our process. Everything starts with the first persona and its scenario…

The start via personas and scenarios

Persona Anna SchmidtA persona is a representative user of the application. In every project, we therefore first look at the most important persona and its core scenario to identify the core user needs of our target group and thus define the problem space. In the LOUISA project, we have a wide range of personas because the target group consists of children who evolve a lot within a short period of time. Therefore, our youngest persona is 4 years old and our oldest is 17 years old. To provide an initial focus, we first focus on an 8-year-old girl who can use the LOUISA app without adult help.

We also consider two scenarios, since different contexts of use are relevant in addition to different personas: the time in the hospital and the time afterwards at home.

Our first scenario describes the period from admission and initial tests in the hospital to diagnosis. In this scenario, everything revolves around the new situation, in which unfamiliar technical terms appear, scary examinations are performed, and there is generally an oppressive and uncertain mood all around the child.

The second scenario highlights the challenges the child faces at home after discharge. What are the symptoms? Which ones are dangerous? Here, continuous documentation of the health status is very important to facilitate the exchange with the doctors.


Gamification and player types in the LOUISA project

It was clear to the pediatrician and project leader of LOUISA, Dr. Basu, from the beginning that the resulting solution should contain gamification elements, as an application for children should be fun and at the same time motivate them to perform rather unpleasant tasks such as documentation on a regular basis.

To get a feel for what a gamified application should contain to motivate our target audience, we had several children fill out a test to determine their player types as part of the persona creation process. Categorization into playertypes allows us to identify the main motivation of a user group in a gamified environment. For playertype assignment, we use Marczewski’s “User Type Hexad” (see graphic), which provides for six categories of player types: Player, Achiever, Free Spirit, Disruptor, Philanthropist, and Socialiser (source:

Our survey showed the following distributions of player types among children:

  1. Philanthropist & Free Spirit (with equal results):
    Philanthrophists care deeply about the deeper meaning of the activity. They want to act as mentors and help others without expecting a reward. The Free Spirits, on the other hand, have a need for independence and individuality. For example, they love to search for Easter Eggs and determine their own path through the game.
  2. Achiever:
    This type of player is driven by being the best. Achievers love to overcome challenges and constantly improve.
  3. Player (Least Results):
    For this player type, it’s about the game itself. The Player wants to play the game and is mainly motivated to stick with it by the rewards within the games (i.e. primarily extrinsic).

This result helps us to understand our users on an emotional level as well, because the different player types are in turn associated with different types of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation means that there is no need for extrinsic motivation like payment to perform an action, but this happens out of the person’s own motivation.

Playertype Modell Marczewskis

Addressing and building intrinsic motivation is very important to the pediatric clinic of the University Hospital of Essen in the LOUISA project, as this achieves a deeper understanding of the disease and increases the children’s self-efficacy in the long term. Which core needs reinforce the intrinsic motivation of which player type can be seen in the graphic below. Thus, the following needs are particularly important for our target group and should be considered in the design: Autonomy (Free Spirit), Mastery (Achiever) and Purpose (Philanthropist). So we see that on the one hand the target group wants to improve their skills (Mastery) and gain independence (Autonomy), but on the other hand they also want to care for and help others (Purpose).

It is interesting to note that this is quite a similar picture to our MightyU project, where the playertype was also determined by sick or impaired children. Here, too, the philanthropist was predominant. From this, the assumption can be made that children who need to be cared for a lot due to their situation feel the need to pass on help and support themselves. This makes them feel more self-efficient and less inadequate.

Outlook on the derived solutions

The two project contact persons of the Center for Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine at the University Hospital Essen, health & pediatric nurse Carolin van Nahl and senior physician of pediatrics Dr. med. Oliver Basu, had already made some considerations about the development of the solution in the run-up to the project. Through their direct experience with the patients, they had come to the conclusion that a character who has a handicap himself would be a perfect companion for the children in the solution.

Based on the scoping and research results on the needs of the target group described above, the idea of developing an app equipped with a character was confirmed as a suitable solution in the following concept ideation workshop. The character has his own story and acts as a friend of the child and is in a similar situation due to his handicap. To support the Purpose thought, he also needs help with his own story (needs to find his friends again). At the same time he knows a lot about life in the hospital and supports the child as a contact person.

The detailed idea generation for the character, his background story, and the concept structure of the app with level mechanics and rewards will follow in the next posts. Next, David will report on the development of a character from a visual point of view.


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