Playful User Interfaces

Part of the series Gaming Media and Social Effects pp 163-184


Games for Change: Looking at Models of Persuasion Through the Lens of Design

  • Alissa N. AntleAffiliated withSimon Fraser University Email author 
  • , Joshua TanenbaumAffiliated withSimon Fraser University
  • , Anna MacaranasAffiliated withSimon Fraser University
  • , John RobinsonAffiliated withUniversity of British Columbia

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Games for Change are digital games that purport to change people’s opinions, attitudes, or behaviors around specific issues. While thousands of games have been created, there is little evidence that such games do persuade or contribute to behavior change. To address this problem, address the research question: How do elements of the different models of persuasion and behavior change manifest within Games for Change? We identify and focus on three models: Information Deficit, Procedural Rhetoric, and a new model called Emergent Dialogue. To answer this question, we had to determine what “clues” there were in games that we could use to identify each model of persuasion. Using a collaborative version of a Close Reading methodology we analyzed ten Games for Change about sustainability. Based on our results we propose six categories of design markers. Each marker can be used to identify or implement specific design elements associated with a particular model of persuasion. In this chapter, we describe our methodology, present six categories of design markers, and describe the specific strategies for each marker associated with each of the three models of persuasion. We illustrate each model and its design markers through canonical examples including a new game called Youtopia that we have created to encode the Emergent Dialogue model into a digital game. We conclude with proposed guidelines for game design of Games for Change.


Games for change Serious games Sustainability Behavior change Procedural rhetoric Emergent dialogue Persuasion Design framework Design guidelines Close reading