Week 1 – First post and initial plan

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I have had this website for a while, serving as my portfolio page. However, I have not made as much utilisation of it as I should. In that sense, I have not documented my work in the detail that I should have, and thus lost sight of some of the details of the processes that I followed while working on those things.

To provide some context for where I am at and how I got to this point, I am currently a PhD student in the Digital Media program at Drexel University. Previously, I worked at Warner Bros Games Boston as part of the Tech Design team, for the mobile strategy game Game of Thrones : Conquest. My research interest lies in persuasive games, climate change, and games for change. My Master’s Project, Presto Manifesto, was part of that, as was one of my VR projects, Wilted Flowers, Wilted Lives. As a fan of Star Trek, I am reminded of one of its key themes – that the human condition is inherently tied to the unknown. This philosophy is, at least on the surface, the guiding principle of all Universities and Academia. And as a doctoral student beginning his PhD, it is my hope and my ambition to contribute meaningfully to it.

The plan, therefore, is to change that for future work. This serves two purposes – 1) Providing readers with an opportunity to gain some insight into how one may go about working on similar projects and 2) Providing me a space for recollection of prior work. The DIGM 540 class at Drexel University shall be the focus of the first documentation.

For this class, I am expected to develop a New Media project in a domain of my choosing. Dr Paul Diefenbach contends that some of the hot topics in this space currently are AI, AR, and IOT. I find myself agreeing with that notion. But in order to engage in persuasive game design(PGD), it is also necessary to ask myself the following questions – what is persuasion? What persuades someone? How does someone get persuaded? And why does that happen? The 5 W’s – who, what, when, where, and how, are key to understanding this process.

In Week 1, Professor Diefenbach showed a number of previous projects relating to his work as well as the work of his students. During that presentation, one of the projects was related to Brain-Computer Interfaces and about collecting data while a player was in the process of hoisting a flag in the game. That video got me thinking about data and the role it could play in persuasive game design. In DIGM 501, I explored some of the literature in this space, with the question – What techniques, strategies and theories are employed by game developers to gamify persuasion and how effective are they? It was one of my observations that there was little collection of data, both short-term and long-term, to measure the impacts of persuasion.

But the idea of these interfaces is incredibly promising. Therefore, a starting point for me is to take on one of the PGD strategies from the papers I have read, and to build a project using that, and to collect data about what goes on in player minds when engaging with those games, with their consent. This data in the course of this class will likely be short-term data, but I hope to follow-up with participants some months after, for the purpose of fulfilling the long-term collection part of the process.

Therefore, I will summarise my plan below. It should be noted, however, that this is a 10 weeks timeframe. I am fairly confident that I would have developed a prototype by the end of this class, but I do not know whether it would be at a stage where useful data could be collected from participants. In any case, I will continue working on it after the class ends –

  1. Choose a theme for a persuasive game project
  2. Adopt a PGD model from the papers I read for my review paper
  3. Develop a game using that model
  4. Demo that game, and collect data from players who consent to engaging in the data collection process
  5. Follow-up with players after a few months

With regards to the tools and technologies, I will be developing this in either Unity or Unreal. With regards to the previously mentioned hot topics- it would depend on the idea that I come up with, but it seems to either be a VR project or an AI project involving procedural generation of some form. After all, my Master’s Project was meant to be a persuasive climate policy simulator, but it didn’t quite get there.

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