Close but Not Too Close: Distance and Relevance in Designing Games for Reflection

Ioanna Iacovides*, Joe Cutting, Jen Beeston, Marta E. Cecchinato, Elisa D. Mekler, Paul Cairns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Persuasive games promote attitude and behavior change, of which reflection is an important precursor, but existing advice on designing for reflection is mixed and requires further empirical investigation. To address these concerns, we report on the design and evaluation (n=32) of a game to prompt student reflection on work-life balance. Participants either played as themselves or a third person character (Alex). An inductive qualitative analysis of post-play interviews, and a follow-up one week later, resulted in four themes that consider how gameplay facilitated reflection: making (sensible) consequences visible; it’s like MY life; the space between Alex and I; and triggers in everyday life. In addition, a deductive qualitative analysis indicated that while both games resulted in different forms of reflection for the majority of players, those who role-played as Alex appeared more likely to experience higher levels of reflection. Through exploring the different ways that the two versions of the game succeeded, and failed, to support reflection, we highlight the importance of providing a relevant context to players (so the game feels close to their experience), and allowing them to role-play as someone other than themselves (but not too close).
Original languageEnglish
Article number224
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalThe Proceedings of the ACM on Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
Issue numberCHI PLAY
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022
EventCHI PLAY 2022 - Bremen, Germany
Duration: 2 Nov 20225 Nov 2022


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