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Game developer explores the persuasive power of Games

Tadhg Kelly wrote a very compelling article on the limits of the persuasive power of games for TechCrunch.  Here are a few parts that I found particularly insightful.

“The root of the persuasive-game idea is that interactivity is better than passivity, and so by encouraging users to do stuff you likely imprint them with an idea more successfully. Largely this is assumed to be true because it sounds very positive on the one hand, and something that could be profitable on the other. The educational and computer-based training sectors rest upon it, as do the emerging fields of socially conscious games.”

Kelly is not so convince of this.  He goes on to write;

“Of course games can educate. Monopoly accidentally teaches its players about ideas like property rental, ownership, rates and income taxes. You don’t really realise it, but years later these ideas turn out to be useful. Scrabble teaches spelling and vocabulary without ever making a big deal of it. It’s just the skill you need to win the game  . . . The Settlers of Catan expands your understanding of resource management. Risk teaches geography (every Risk player knows that there’s a place in Asia named Kamchatka).”

Regardless of whether it is “accidental” or not learning takes place when people play games.  Kelly goes on to make several excellent observations about how games that are too preachy, commercial, or just badly designed are not persuasive.  This is all true of course, but the right solution is to design better games.

Read the full article by Tadhg Kelly on TechCrunch by clicking here