Persuasive Games as Social Action Agents: Challenges and Implications in Learning and Society

Persuasive Games as Social Action Agents: Challenges and Implications in Learning and Society

Dana Ruggiero (School of Education, Bath Spa University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6114-1.ch011
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Abstract

Persuasive games are an interdisciplinary area covering a range of fields. This article examines persuasive games through current trends in research as potential agents of social action. The implications of persuasive games for learning are analyzed through education and communication theories, suggesting that persuasive techniques are of primary importance and that procedures and ethos connect learners to experiences. The article first provides a historical overview of persuasive games, highlighting key background and influences. It then defines persuasive games through learning and communication theories, and discusses the implications of persuasive games as social action agents in research, policy, and practice.
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Background And Influences

Persuasive games, games aimed at changing attitude or behavior, have been studied in various contexts with other definitions over the past forty years. Predating the invention of the computer, humans have used play and games for teaching necessary skills and socialization for millennia (Huizinga, 1955; Abt, 1970). Games explicitly created to change attitudes and behavior date back to 1790, when British publishers of the New Game of Human Life advised parents to play the board game with their children and “request their attention to a few moral and judicious observations explanatory of each character as they proceed & contrast the happiness of a virtuous and well spent life with the fatal consequences arriving from vicious & immoral pursuits” (Lepore, 2007 para. 3).

In 1843 a board game released in the US called Mansion of Happiness instructed players to make good and moral decisions to gain the seat of happiness. Moreover, Milton Bradley created the Checkered Game of Life, in 1860 with the intention “to forcibly impress upon the minds of youth the great moral principles of virtue and vice.” While a commercial success that helped launch Bradley’s board game business, there is no evidence that it had any moral affect on the minds of children (Lepore, 2007 para. 3).

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