Jeremiah Diephuis

Jeremiah Diephuis was born in 1976 and grew up in the great arcades of the American Midwest. After studies in computational linguistics and media, he focused his attention on the utilization and development of games for public spaces. He currently works as a professor in the Digital Media department at the Hagenberg Campus of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. He is also co-founder of the nonprofit organization GameStage and a founding member of the research group Playful Interactive Environments.

Andrea Aschauer (University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria)
Wolfgang Hochleitner (University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria)
Georgi Kostov (University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria)

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: Developing Economic Ideologies for Games about Climate Change

FROG 2023 – Talk

The utilization of some form of money as a collectible resource in games is incredibly widespread, almost to the point of ubiquity. The reasons for this are manifold. Games typically aim to provide an interactive experience based on a potentially real situation, however fictional the premise, and money is usually involved in such situations. Games also require readily understood concepts for at least some of the mechanics to simplify their learning curves, and money provides a certain “sweet spot” in terms of the level of abstraction, representing both a type of performance measure (akin to a point system) as well as a finite resource that serves to balance the player experience.

But what if money is potentially problematic for the premise of the game itself, such as for serious games that promote environmental protection and aim to educate about climate change and sustainability? The complexity of money and economic ideologies in regard to climate change are difficult to address in a game without ascribing to a specific political agenda (e.g. corporations are evil entities), which can easily result in players rejecting the game. And yet the exclusion or even simple concealment of monetary systems can become overly cumbersome and even disingenuous as money does indeed tend to play a role in real life.


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