Wolfgang Hochleitner

Wolfgang Hochleitner (AT) is a lecturer and researcher in the Digital Media department at the Hagenberg Campus of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. Within the research group Playful Interactive Environments, his research interests lie in large-display floor-based games and social and persuasive impact games.


Jeremiah Diephuis, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria
Anke Schneider, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Julia Himmelsbach, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
David Sellitsch, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Designing Game-based Moral Courage: A Postmortem

FROG 2022 – Talk

Games are continually being utilized for purposes other than pure entertainment, from various uses in education to approaches that help foster behavioral change. The ability to structure an interactive experience that is motivating, repeatable, allows for variable outcomes and provides some measures for performance also makes games an excellent tool for research activities. However, the actual employment of games for more “serious” purposes presents specific challenges that need to be addressed. Games heavily rely on mechanics that both define and incentivize player interaction. For so-called “impact games,” this can potentially overshadow the intended content or purpose. In addition, each player needs to learn the rules of the game world and the controls for the game. Unfamiliarity with common game modalities and specific controller setups can severely complicate the learning process. For such impact games that target a larger audience, significant efforts are required to simplify these processes while still permitting a sense of agency and discovery.

The transdisciplinary research project CATRINA endeavors to explore how game-based approaches can be used to inform young adults about situations that require moral courage and encourage their willingness for increased involvement. In the project, three distinct game approaches were developed and evaluated: a mobile-device-supported urban game, a hybrid multiplayer card game and an immersive virtual reality game. Although each of these game prototypes utilized different technologies and game modalities, all were developed with the same guiding principles: the inclusion of specific social identity features, the avoidance of unnecessary stereotypes, and an emphasis on simplified interaction without the need for traditional game controls such as a keyboard or controllers. The development and subsequent evaluation of these games resulted in a few valuable lessons that are of interest to other game-based research projects, particularly within the context of the global pandemic. This postmortem will address issues such as the usage and avoidance of stereotypes, universality vs. salience and the importance of in-game analytics.


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