Games Can Encourage Virtue

Social impact games such as those devised for e-learning practices can be a positive element in encouraging desired behaviors, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. The authors (L. Sagiv, N. Sverdlik and N. Schwarz) note that “when people interact with others they frequently have to decide whether to cooperate (often at some cost to themselves) or to compete, possibly at the expense of others.”

When confronted with social dilemmas, people may make irrational choices (i.e, non-game-winning choices), and those choices are tied to player values. Based on these studies, you might expect that people who are classified as “socializers” and “explorers” might not necessarily play social impact games to win unless winning is directly tied to game actions that reflect their values.

But the research suggests:
>> Helping players to be aware of, and reflect on, their values can enhance desired behaviors.
>> Desired behaviors have to be rewarded in ways that appeal to different player types/values for a game to be enjoyable to multiple player types (a challenging task).

If the goal of a social impact game is to encourage “benevolent” social behaviors, status and prestige might not be the appropriate carrots to dangle in front of those who value these behaviors, the research further suggests.

Social impact games such as those devised for e-learning practices can be a positive element in encouraging desired behaviors, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. The authors (L. Sagiv, N. Sverdlik and N. Schwarz) note that “when people interact with others they frequently have to decide whether to cooperate (often at some cost to themselves) or to compete, possibly at the expense of others.”

When confronted with social dilemmas, people may make irrational choices (i.e, non-game-winning choices), and those choices are tied to player values. Based on these studies, you might expect that people who are classified as “socializers” and “explorers” might not necessarily play social impact games to win unless winning is directly tied to game actions that reflect their values.

But the research suggests:
>> Helping players to be aware of, and reflect on, their values can enhance desired behaviors.
>> Desired behaviors have to be rewarded in ways that appeal to different player types/values for a game to be enjoyable to multiple player types (a challenging task).

If the goal of a social impact game is to encourage “benevolent” social behaviors, status and prestige might not be the appropriate carrots to dangle in front of those who value these behaviors, the research further suggests.

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