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Title: Fostering sustainable behaviour through social games : elements of 'gamified behaviour-change programmes' contributing to the process of behaviour change for environmental benefit
Authors: Sharma, Satyakam
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: A positive change in consumption behaviour, both at individual and collective level, is required to realize the concept of a sustainable society. Recent recognition of the significance of behaviour change has inspired designers to make strategic use of design to induce a positive change in behaviour towards usage of products and resources to reduce the environmental impact. Although such design-led behaviour-based approaches have been quite effective, they have mostly been product- and action-specific and have not considered the social context, which also has an impact on individual behaviour. As a result, these interventions have received critical responses. On the contrary, a number of distinct approaches have emerged from the field of social psychology and sociology in the form of social innovations that have focused on social ways of encouraging sustainable behaviour. Some of these interventions have been quite effective, and thus have generated the interest of designers, social entrepreneurs and creative idealists towards the social dimension of behaviour change. Gamified behaviour-change programmes (GBCPs) are one such example of social interventions that have been effective in inducing positive social change for environmental benefit. GBCPs are strategically-designed social engagements, which engage the participants in game-based tasks and activities and stimulate them to adopt sustainable actions, in a playful way, under the influence of a social setting. Although the impact of social influence on an individual's behaviour is well-recognized, its application through (social) game-based solutions in fostering sustainable behaviour is relatively new. There is less research available on how these social game-based interventions can foster sustainable actions and behaviour in a targeted social group, or the factors contributing to the process. The research investigates the mechanics of GBCPs, particularly the process through which they prepare, motivate, transform and incubate behaviour under the influence of a social setting and using a game-based approach. It investigates the causal factors and conditions that influence the central phenomenon of behaviour change across all the examined cases of GBCPs. Its objectives are: 1) to identify the key constituting elements (incidences, phenomena, processes, activities, events, motivations and strategies) of GBCPs that play a role in the process of behaviour change or indirectly contribute to the process by facilitating an influential social environment that motivates participants to adopt desired sustainable actions, 2) to identify the roles that each of these elements plays in the process of change, and 3) to investigate the ways each of these elements is addressed or delivered across all the cases.
The research is explorative, qualitative and interpretative in nature, and adopts grounded theory as the main methodology, as well as strategic method for studying and analysing four effectively implemented cases of GBCPs. It uses a data triangulation approach, involving corroborating the data collected from three different sources. The study first examines the cases using a document analysis method, which involves thorough analysis of over fifty published documents including case studies, journal articles, magazines and newspaper articles, resource libraries, training materials, business reports, marketing and promotional material, manuals, customer feedback reports, website content, mobile application content, official blogs, policy manuals, strategic plans and structures, brochures and flyers, and communication between the programmes and participants. It uses line-by-line coding and constant comparison techniques, as well as open and axial coding procedure to analyse the documents. Thereafter, the study re-examines the cases using interview method, which involves interviews with the founders and organizers of these programmes and also with those who participated in these programmes. The study analyses the data from the interviews and compares it with the findings from the document analysis, which helps in validating the findings as well as adding the missing information. The study breaks down the entire process of change into its individual elements, (incidences, phenomena, activities, processes, events and motivations) and identifies how the elements, which collectively constitute an influential social environment, motivate participants to adopt desired sustainable actions in a playful way. The study identifies forty-one elements that directly or indirectly contribute to the process of behaviour change in the observed cases. It recognizes the role that each of these elements plays in the process and different ways in which each element is addressed or delivered across the cases. It also recognizes seven sub-processes to which the elements contribute. The study provides useful insights into the mechanics of GBCPs. For designers, creative idealists and social entrepreneurs engaged in behaviour change for sustainability, this research provides essential touchpoints to consider while conceptualizing social game-based interventions that meet sustainability objectives. The research does not provide a procedure or finite steps for designing such programmes but, in the form of contributing elements, it does suggest aspects and strategies to consider when conceptualizing GBCPs. To some extent, the research should facilitate designers', social entrepreneurs' and creative idealists' engagement with social behaviour change for sustainability, by targeting collective social transformation through game-based social interventions. Overall, the research draws attention to the importance of such social game-based programmes and would encourage designers, creative idealists and social entrepreneurs to consider GBCPs as an approach when addressing sustainability objectives.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Games -- Social aspects
Sustainable development -- Social aspects
Pages: 225 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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