B. Mayer, R. Weinreich: The Effect of Gamification on Software Architecture Knowledge Management: A Student Experiment and Focus Group Study, 34th ACM/SIGAPP Symposium on Applied Computing (SAC), Track on Software Architecture: Theory, Technology, and Applications (SA-TTA), Limassol, Cyprus, April 8-12, ACM, 2019, Best Paper Award, doi: 10.1145/3297280.3297449.


Both scientists and practitioners agree on the importance of software architectural knowledge (AK) in software development, but AK is often not recorded. This is especially problematic with large and complex software systems, as AK easily evaporates over time if it is not documented. A major problem is the lack of motivation of architects and developers to document AK. Since gamification is a means for increasing motivation and work morale in general, we investigated its suitability for improving the capturing of AK. To investigate the effects of gamification and identify potential problems we conducted an experiment and an associated focus group with graduate students in computer science. While we found some minor differences between groups using gamification and not using gamification, none of them were statistically significant. The focus group interviews, however, provide some explanations why we could not observe any significant differences and also why it may still be worthwhile to further investigate the use of gamification in this area.