Pervasive games can help persuade whole families to save electricity. That is the conclusion of researcher Mattias Svahn in a new PhD thesis from the Stockholm School of Economics Centre for Media Psychology.
Pervasive games, i.e. games that break out of the box by taking into consideration where they are played, when they are played and by whom they are played, can be very efficient persuaders (for example, to save energy). This takes serious games, advergames and persuasive games (as well as gamification) to a whole new level, according to Svahn.
Svahn’s thesis addresses the issue of how families can be persuaded to conserve electricity, as a means of researching the persuasion process in pervasive games. The conclusion is that games that take into account people other than the players themselves (socially expanded pervasive games) create gameplay with both voluntary and involuntary players. That can be a powerful tool of persuasion; in this case for conserving household electricity.
“The research shows that games are a useful tool in difficult persuasion situations, because games can motivate people to take action more effectively than more common advertising and persuasion media. Pervasive games in particular encourage people to take action in reality. This shows a way forward for not only game producers in the persuasion business, but for any game designer,” says Mattias Svahn.
The study was done with a team from the Interactive Institute Swedish ICT/Energy Design Group in Eskilstuna, who built a prototype game system that connected a household’s real electricity consumption to the game system. The more the player shut down electricity consuming appliances in reality, the better the score on missions, races and fights in the game environment.
“Earlier research has shown that persuasive games can impact the player’s attitudes and beliefs, but has not been able to show the relationship between game design and persuasion process. This research visualises how game design defines the persuasion process in a way that has not been done before,” adds Svahn.
Download a one-page summary of the study’s Agents Against Power Waste project here.