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Get Water!: Exploring the Adult Player’s Experience of a Mobile Game for Change

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Get Water!: Exploring the Adult Player’s Experience of a Mobile Game for Change

Sheepy, Emily (2015) Get Water!: Exploring the Adult Player’s Experience of a Mobile Game for Change. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Research problem: Games with civic themes such as Get Water! are intended to raise awareness and promote participation in social movements. Evidence linking the features of such games to specific player outcomes, including affective, cognitive and behavioral indicators of learning, is limited. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the literature on game-based civic education by conducting an in-depth investigation of the experiences of adult players of a social change game for mobile devices, Get Water!.
Research questions: (1) How do players experience Get Water!? (2) How do players evaluate Get Water!? (3) Does playing Get Water! influence players’ attitudes, thoughts or actions related to the social issues it addresses?
Literature review: Previous research suggests that prior experience may influence how players interpret video games. Though some games with civic themes have been found to positively affect player attitudes and promote learning, the mechanisms are unclear. Design features of such games, especially content-mechanic integration, are likely to influence attitudinal, cognitive and behavioral learning outcomes of play by structuring the player experience.
Methodology: A qualitative case study approach is used to characterize the experiences and evaluations of 22 adults who played the game in a laboratory setting. Participant data was collected using a think-aloud procedure, post-play questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and a one-month follow-up questionnaire. External data, including game design documents, were also examined. Descriptive and interpretive analyses were conducted to develop a detailed description of player-game interactions and player perceptions.
Findings and Conclusions: The data suggest that the participants’ evaluations of the game were informed by their personal experiences of the social issue depicted, and values with regards to teaching and learning. As such, their interpretations of the game’s content and perceived effectiveness varied greatly. Notably, the interpretations of players who had personally lived in regions where water scarcity exists interpreted the social messaging in unexpected ways. While the players largely enjoyed the game and viewed it positively, some indicated that the in-game activities were not sufficiently representative of the real-world scenario to afford a transformative educational experience. Misalignment between in-game objectives and real-world motives, and limited character and narrative development may account for the players’ experiences of low affective identification with the player character. Some players engaged in discussion and sought information about the subject matter in the month after the laboratory session. The findings and implications contribute to a conceptual understanding of how differences at the player level can influence how a social change game is experienced and evaluated. This suggests that social change game designers and education practitioners should prioritize representational verification efforts to better accommodate diversity in players’ prior knowledge.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Sheepy, Emily
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:March 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Venkatesh, Vivek
Keywords:games for change, civic games-based learning, educational video games, evaluation, case study
ID Code:980066
Deposited By: EMILY SHEEPY
Deposited On:09 Jul 2015 14:24
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:50
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