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© 2018 TUMO Center & The European Union

CONCLUSION

The conclusions below are a synthesis of the 120 user tests that were conducted with our target age group

 
 

Is a mobile game an effective method for educating young people about corruption?
 

During our user research we asked participants to play through the game and identify what they thought each part of the game was about. Each of our core 'mini games' or questions were explicitly designed to convey an anti-corruption message. Whilst the intended message was not always exactly in understood, in the majority of cases players realised that there were important messages about social justice. For example, during the 'Justice will be done" mini game, the largest group of participants believed that the game was simply about putting pictures in order. However, a slightly larger group interpreted anti corruption messages, but not in exactly the same manner. Overall, over 80% of the test participants enjoyed playing the game.

Players consistently discussed their positive (and negative) feelings towards the characters in the game. It was a conscious decisions by the Neto team from the outset to include clearly defined characters with their respective character traits, this was designed to allow the players to identify with the characters, and form an emotional connection, allowing them to further engage in the product and understand the corruption messages. 

The character of Sevan was positively assessed by the majority of our participants and we had designed the character to be studious, inquisitive and have a clear sense of right and wrong. We also included the character of URAN, an animal, in order to foster a companionship that would engage players to continue playing. 

 

This leads us to conclude that whilst young people may have trouble fully understanding the formal concepts of corruption and their different manifestations, social gaming is an effective tool to convey difficult messages, particularly if they contain clearly defined definitions of right and wrong.


 

Would we recommend creating a mobile game to fight other social issues in future? e.g.
climate change?

Taking into account the points in the above paragraph, we can conclude that social gaming can be an effective method for other social issues. Particularly if those issues are relevant to the day to day life of the target audience, and can be visibly illustrated through graphics and in game interactions. For example, in a number of our corruption cases, the participants linked the intended corruption messages to more visible social issues such as environmental damage. Based on this, we would recommend that climate change and environmental damage be a key topic for a future continuation of the Tales of Neto project.

3. What tips and advice would we give to other teams who are pursuing similar projects in
future?

Our recommendations to future creators could be summarised as follows:

  • Characters​

    • The character mix proved to be a useful method for engaging young people to play a game about a challenge topic such as corruption. We would recommend future projects also consider a captivating group of characters - rather than see the characters as 'vehicles' for delivering messages, to consider them as an integral part of the game itself, by investing time and effort in their stories, their history and keeping their interactions consistent with their character throughout.​

  • Design, immersion

    • The creation of a 3D world was an important part of engaging players in the game. It also provided us with an effective tool for visualising the effects of anti corruption efforts. We would strongly recommend the 'observe > action > visualise change' approach to future game creators. That is, create a world which is visibly damaged by the effects of the social issue at hand, provide players with a chance to observe the problem, and after solving it, they should see a visible improvement on the world around them. In the case of Neto for example, our world started to improve visible, with trash removed from the sea, trees becoming greener, and roads improving. These visible signs are also how anti corruption efforts can manifest themselves in real life, thus providing an effective way to illustrate the positive effects of fighting corruption.​

  • Dialogue, challenges of 'information overload

    • One of the key challenges faced by the Tales of Neto team was how to ensure that we could provide the required 'formal' information to players without simply overloading the players with on screen text. For example, how can we explain the formal concept of a monopoly? or nepotism? Our approach was to attempt to relay this information through dialog between characters. We thought that this would allow us  a method for providing the formal corruption messages without giving the player the perception that this was only an 'educational' game​. Whilst this method provided us with a simple way to introduce corruption concepts into the game, it proved a challenge when the game was actually played. Many of our test participants struggled to concentrate on the dialog, and as such we would advise against using character dialog as the only method to convey key messages. In fact, an additional source of information would be required to effectively deliver key social messages (such as an information fact book, or a page of notes, etc).

  • Team work and impact on the TUMO students

    • One of the most positive outcomes from the Tales of Neto project was the capacity building it provided for TUMO and its students. The students involved in the creation of the game were immersed in a real life project, with real deadlines and real work to complete. This allowed them to learn many important components of how to deliver a project and to understand how to estimate the scale of work, how to concentrate to deliver on time and how to plan an effective product release. The team were coached regularly and introduced to agile project management techniques to help plan their work. They were enouraged to take a leading role in organising the events for the project to build their capability and learn to lead mini projects. With this in mind, we would recommend that such social games should include an element of capacity building and involvement of the target audience in their creation, in order to create an engaging product.

If you have any further questions or are planning to create a social game and would like advice or guidance, you can contact us at product@tumo.org

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