Evaluating the Effectiveness of Serious Games for Fostering Collective Action: An Application to Air Quality in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah

Authors: Hannah Satein*, University of Utah, Benjamin Davies, University of Utah, Danya Rumore, University of Utah, Kathryn Davies, University of Utah, Jeff Rose, University of Utah
Topics: Environment, Urban and Regional Planning, United States
Keywords: serious games, air quality, wicked problems, collective action, equity, role play simulation
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation Link: Open in New Window
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Addressing wicked environmental issues remains a pressing challenge. Serious games are one
tool believed to help facilitate social learning and hold promise for generating momentum for
collective action to address such challenges. However, there remains a dearth of knowledge
regarding the effectiveness of games in achieving their intended learning outcomes and if any
achieved learning persists beyond the short-term. Our team is developing a serious game to
model stakeholder perspectives on air quality in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. We conducted
semi-structured interviews with diverse stakeholders in the valley, e.g. citizens, regulators,
industry, NGOs, to develop this role play simulation; interviewees’ responses provided insight
into stakeholders’ positions and interests, perceptions regarding barriers to and solutions for
addressing air quality, and areas of agreement and disagreement in the community. These
provided insights into key social, economic, and political tensions that could be fruitfully
explored within a game environment. Our intent is to use this simulation with citizens in the
valley to foster learning about the collective action nature of this problem, differential impacts
and equity issues, and the need for a coordinated response. We hope to foster social learning and
spur movement towards action on this issue in the valley, while also advancing the state of
knowledge regarding the effectiveness of serious games at achieving outcomes such as these.

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