Playing against abuse: Effects of procedural and narrative persuasive games

Ruud S. Jacobs, Jeroen Jansz, Julia Kneer

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Persuasive games - games that intend to change attitudes in players - employ numerous types of persuasive tactics; the individual contributions of such tactics to the effectiveness of these games as a full experience have not yet been tested. In this study we examine two existing persuasive games about teen dating violence by performing a controlled experiment on effects on attitudes towards abusive relationships. We selected these games on the basis of their relative focus on narrative or procedural arguments (i.e., mirroring real-world processes through ingame systems). Participants (N = 262) were drawn from a mixed sample of university and senior secondary school students who, with a mean age of 19 years, were slightly older than the game’s target audiences. Results indicated that the games affected some of the attitudes they were intended to, but that the effects of the narrative and procedural games were not differentiated. Character and cognitive identification (with the game’s protagonists and procedural rhetoric) differed between games, but negatively predicted attitude change. We describe conclusions about how game developers may comfortably explore multiple designs without fear of hampering effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-120
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Games, Self, & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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