Lost in Translation: Comparing the Impact of an Analog and Digital Version of a Public Health Game on Players’ Perceptions, Attitudes, and Cognitions

Lost in Translation: Comparing the Impact of an Analog and Digital Version of a Public Health Game on Players’ Perceptions, Attitudes, and Cognitions

Geoff F. Kaufman (Tiltfactor Laboratory, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA) and Mary Flanagan (Tiltfactor Laboratory, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2013070101
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Abstract

In light of a growing body of work demonstrating the ability of games to transform cognitive skill sets and change attitudes toward social issues, including in public health, it is crucial to understand the potentially divergent experiences and outcomes afforded by analog and digital platforms. In a recent empirical study, the authors addressed the basic question of whether transferring a public health game from an analog to a digital format would impact players’ perceptions of the game and the efficacy of the game for stimulating changes to beliefs and cognitions. Results revealed that the digital version of the game, despite being a nearly identical translation, was perceived by players to be more complicated than the analog version and, consequently, was less effective at facilitating learning and attitude change. The authors propose several explanations for this finding, based on psychological theories, to help elucidate critical distinctions between non-digital and digital game play phenomenology.
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The History And Design Of Pox: Save The People

In 2010, our game design laboratory was asked by the Mascoma Valley Health Initiative, a New Hampshire public health organization, to create a board game that demonstrates the role vaccines play in preventing the spread of disease, for use in classrooms and health fairs. The first game produced from this charge, POX: Save the People (2010), is played on a game board of 81 (9x9) spaces, with each space representing one person in a community in which disease has just begun to spread. At the start of the game, two people are infected with a disease; they are represented by red spaces near the center of the board. Six yellow spaces on the board represent people with susceptible immune systems (e.g. pregnant women, babies, individuals with HIV or AIDS, and people with cancer), who cannot be vaccinated and, thus, are especially vulnerable (see Figure 1).

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