A Model for Empathy: Building Games which Make People Care

Date: Friday 1st September


Ever wondered how to build heart and social impact into a game without turning it into a ‘serious’ or educational game? This talk presents the findings from user-tested research into how to create empathy-building encounters in mainstream games. With such starting points as: ‘Put Play First – Don’t let your social issue take over the game’ and explaining how through in-game choices we emotionally entangle the player with the game’s consequences, the talk presents a model which can be used by anyone in the game making pipeline (writers, producers, directors, designers, and devs). The model presents guidelines including: ‘Develop a context. Show how inequality occurs, and the negative effects of it’, and ‘Normalise diverse representation’. It provides a simple framework you can apply to your game in small ways or large ways to structure your approach, and through this use games to help players experience empathy for different walks of life.


About the speaker

Moana is a Narrative Designer, Game Designer, researcher, and the Director of Path Weaver Productions – a storytelling studio dedicated to making fun experiences which can do good in society. Moana has a Masters in Anthropology looking at how games impact players, and can regularly be found up to their ears in spreadsheets ruing the day they decided to build 24 unique classes for a TTRPG. A strong believer that games can have robots and explosions AND feelings, Moana advocates for enriching all games with story – and all stories with meaning.