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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