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  • Writer's pictureDaniel J. King

Dissertation Blog #18

Notes from Meeting with Dr. Salter 2020-09-22

I need to direct the spotlight onto the persuasive purpose of the game. Monetization is not a humanistic-enough topic. Neither myself nor my committee members are specialists in fundraising. I can still touch on the freemium issues, but it should not be the main contribution.

For the methodology, it's too hard to validate education effects of a game with my resources. So I should design the game, have people play it, and then survey the players to see if I have changed their attitudes and beliefs. Have I inspired people to want to donate to science advocacy (rather than actually collecting donations through the game)?

See Mary Flanagan on making a difference through playful design.

My methodology should spring from Flanagan and Nissenbaum's Values at Play.

I need to go back to my methods list and assess the participatory design readings. Can I figure out how to merely scale down their methods to be usable during the pandemic, rather than abandoning their methods entirely? How can I preserve the intention of what I wanted from the participatory design feedback.

I do not have to dramatically change my methods list. Maybe I can just switch in readings I've done that did not make the first cut. The important thing is to drop anything that necessitates a hands-on methodology.

The chapter outline will fundamentally change:

  1. Monetization cannot be at the forefront. The main contribution must be persuasion.

  2. Because of the pandemic, most methods of collaborative workshopping are out.

Talk to Taylor Howard about how his serious game design dissertation project has evolved.

Dissertation Pre-Proposal Revision

Problem: Scholars such as Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum have defined best practices for conscientious game design, and others including Jesper Juul and Gregory Trefry have defined principles for designing casual games that appeal to a wide audience. However, less research has been done on how to integrate these two design approaches.

Research Question: How can the best practices for conscientious game design be integrated with the principles of casual game design, so that a game can be values-focused while also appealing to a wide audience?

Data: I will examine published design principles for serious games and casual games, integrate them in my original game concept, and then examine playtester feedback.

Method for Collecting Data: I will use the published design principles to inform the design and development of my game Field of Cures. Then I will conduct interviews with playtesters to see if the casual aspects of the game appealed to them and if the game influenced their attitudes and beliefs.

Method for Analyzing Data: I will look for common themes in the playtesters’ qualitative feedback about what is effective in the game design and what should be revised. From the experience of designing and testing Field of Cures, I will synthesize a set of recommendations for serious-casual game design.

Categories to Cover in Literature Review: My literature review will cover best practices and ethical considerations in serious game design and casual game design.

Reasons the Study Is Significant: Serious games can be crafted to help players understand complex connections between phenomena as well as ethical issues that arise from those interconnections. If a serious game is not intrinsically appealing to play, however, it’s audience — and therefore its impact — will be limited. Serious game designers usually have fewer development resources, which often explains the gap in appeal between serious games and commercial games. Integrating casual game design principles could enable designers to increase the appeal of serious games more efficiently.

Outline of the Chapters

  1. Introduction

  2. Serious Game Design Principles in Field of Cures

  3. Casual Game Design Principles in Field of Cures

  4. Playtester Interviews

  5. Recommendations for Serious-Casual Game Design

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