Feminine gamification viewpoint: Awkward Moment
Researchers at Darthmouth in the USA, used games and embedded game design techniques to address gender bias in a recent study. They designed two card games one is called Awkward Moment, which challenges players to react to funny, embarrassing and stressful situations; and Buffalo: the Name Dropping Game, which asks players to name real or fictional examples who fit the game’s unexpected combination of attributes.
Neither game will mention the purpose or intent of trying to change gender bias at all, it is just embedded in the game design through intermixing, sometimes suggestions are ‘on topic’, sometimes completely ‘off topic’. They used this technique to counteract the inherent resistance most people have when the intent is shared, but rather they chose to focus on enjoyment and growth in their game. When designing games and gamification with the purpose of being persuasive then this is something to take into serious consideration.
Awkward Moment mixes in situations that involve a bias against girls in STEM or a lack of gender equity as well as a range of cards that do not address these situations at all. Researchers Kaufman and Flanagan found that after playing Awkward Moment, young players had more inspiring and assertive responses to multiple forms of social bias in relation to women and science. To verify if the game had changed perceptions, students were asked after playing 1 round of the game to match pictures of men and women with various job roles: 58% of participants placed a woman in the scientist role, which was 33% more than a control group who didn’t play the game and 40% more than a group who played a neutral game that had no references to gender bias.
The study confirms my thinking when it comes to gamification design that although the techniques don’t need to be obvious nor shared, your gamification design is better when it addresses some of the real things that live in an organisation even if they are no longer desired such as gender bias for example. Most companies want to be seen as inclusive of all groups, yet reality is often different because of long held biases, so research like this will help us as game and gamification designer to create more transformational experiences for clients.
How will you embed gamification techniques to decrease gender bias?