The Magic game circle as a model to design behaviorchange

A session at Interaction14

Thursday 6th February, 2014

2:45pm to 2:45pm (AMT)

Who are most efficient and effective learners you can think off? Children are, they need to learn a lot to be able to live independently and cope with daily life, and they learn mainly by play. In play exploration, trial and error in a safe environment is vital to educate knowledge, skills and behaviour. Games are often being dismissed as “It’s just a game!” and not taken seriously as a strong tool to engage people and achieve more than “just” for fun only.

To know how a game is designed or game elements can be applied as a tool for behaviour change we need to investigate the context of a game:

“Summing up the formal characteristics of play we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious’, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly”. [Johan Huizinga: Homo Ludens 1938]

Based on the description of Johan Huizinga's 'state of play' a model is created; A magic game circle is defined by 1) player = the person interacting 2) play = interaction including the meaning the player gives/feels in the goal and rules 3 game = the definition of the rules and goals.

If we are able by using this MGC-model to design games in its wider context of games being played by different player-types within an even wider context of real life we might be able to provide games as a sustainable intrinsically motivational tool for people to become players to learn to cope with life.

Freedom, safety and trust are most important matters to take in account when designing games or attempt to facilitate a magic game circle for a user to get in a state of play. Does my player feel safe to play, is he/she able to play, does he/she understand the game, does he/she trust the rules or game, does he experience freedom to play?

If designed well games can be inviting and persuasive and even addictive. Game elements are like ingredients, there is an increasing amount of cooks, restaurants, kitchens, cookbooks, spices and flavours but no consensus is yet found what is play and how it is perceived. The magic game circle can help as a tool to discuss these elements and recipes in a constructive way.

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Ellis Bartholomeus

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2:45pm The Magic game circle as a model to design behaviorchange by Ellis Bartholomeus

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Time 2:45pm2:45pm AMT

Date Thu 6th February 2014


Gashouder, Westergasfabriek

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