Games can persuade players to change their attitude

Games can persuade players to change their attitude concerning a certain problem in the ‘real world’. That is what media researcher Ruud Jacobs found out in his dissertation called ‘Playing to Win Over: Validating Persuasive Games’.

In his research, Jacobs focused on games like My Cotton Picking Life and Dumb Ways to Die, that are meant to convince gamers to take a stance concerning a certain topic in the ‘real world’. Dumb Ways to Die, for example, tries to warn young people about the dangers of not paying attention around railways.

Adjusting attitudes

Persuasive games are no miracle workers. However, Jacobs discovered that, despite the fact that these games only ask the player’s attention for a short time, they can adjust attitudes just as other media can. He found out that many persuasive games incorporate their message in the way the game has to be played. In My Cotton Picking Life, for example, about cotton pickers in Uzbekistan, players are placed in the shoes of a kid who is forced to pick cotton. This way, players experience that picking cotton is very tough and boring work. It is that interactivity that makes My Cotton Picking Life an effective game.

Jacobs also researched the game Tweet, Chat, Like & Drive, that was designed to battle smartphone use in traffic. Even after a short session, Jacobs’ research shows, this game can show that using a smartphone in traffic greatly increases the chance of accidents.

Want to know more? Jacobs’ dissertation is part of the multidisciplinary NWO-project ‘Persuasive Gaming. From Theory-Based Design to Validation and Back’.

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