The Ethics of Gamification in a Marketing Context

Andrea Stevenson Thorpe*, Stephen Roper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Gamification is an increasingly common marketing tool. Yet, to date, there has been little examination of its ethical implications. In light of the potential implications of this type of stealth marketing for consumer welfare, this paper discusses the ethical dilemmas raised by the use of gamified approaches to marketing. The paper draws on different schools of ethics to examine gamification as an overall system, as well as its constituent parts. This discussion leads to a rationale and suggestions for how gamification could be regulated and/or controlled by more informal codes of conduct. The paper ends by outlining a practical framework which businesses can use to evaluate the potential ethical implications raised by their own gamified marketing techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-609
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • Gamification
  • Marketing
  • Regulation
  • Stealth marketing


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