Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Expanding the Magic Circle and the Self: Integrating Discursive Topics into Games
by da Rosa Faller, Roberto, Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology, 2020, 323; 28157122
Abstract (Summary)

This study focuses on games for self-development and how they communicate ideas, challenge established assumptions, cause reflection, and provoke change. It explores the integration of discursive topics – specifically those perceived as difficult, political, philosophical, taboo, or controversial – into games, and how to manage player exposure to these topics through design while avoiding player disengagement to achieve self-development goals. Using a Research Through Design approach, this study was conducted in two phases. The first exploratory phase resulted in an analytical framework with four distinct lenses: engaging play experience; player’s emotional investment; the friction points of discursive topics; and, controlled exposure to the topic. During the second phase, this framework was used to analyze eight case studies and three prototypes. The resultant insights from analysis revealed five categories – topic depiction, emotional climate, emotional anchors, topic delivery, and exposure timing – that form the Discursive Topic Integration Framework for self-development. This framework offers a new theoretical perspective for design scholars and practicing designers about how to manipulate the “magic circle” (a safe temporary space for the act of play), by intentionally designing for discursive topics and their friction points. It contributes strategies about when, how, how frequently, and with what intensity discursive topics may be introduced and abstracted in games. It frames the discursive topic, creates the emotional climate, and anchors the player inside the magic circle of the game so that they feel engaged, motivated, and curious without becoming overwhelmed. This study also generated two additional frameworks, including: the Self-Development Opportunity Matrix that can be used to generate or evaluate self-development goals; and, the Five Categories of Transitional and Traumatic Experiences that can assist in the design of games and other experiences that build a person’s capacity, self-determination, and commitment to positive change.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Teixeira, Carlos
Commitee: Ruecker, Stan, Forlano, Laura, Schmidt, Ruth, Kocurek, Carly
School: Illinois Institute of Technology
Department: Institute of Design
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 82/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Design
Keywords: Controlled exposure, Discursive design, Game design, Intrinsic motivation, Magic circle, Self-development
Publication Number: 28157122
ISBN: 9798557048750
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