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Understanding Empathy in Children through 3D Character Design
Chan Kah Easterly Douglas Thomassen Aukje
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory
Health, particularly diet and everyday nutrition, as the ultimate causal factor in life is an important aspect of every child’s education. Meanwhile, computer generated (CG) 3- dimensional (3-D) graphics is a medium often used by entertainment and advertising. Educational intervention to help children make appropriate dietary choices can be designed by employing similar methods used by entertainment and advertising, such as 3-D characters aimed at children. The question that this research asked is: can creating an empathic bond between 3-D characters and children communicate a healthy nutrition message effectively? This thesis is based on qualitative research founded on the constructionist theory that focuses on exploring the perspective of children via focus groups. Educational designs based on familiar computer-generated graphics will help equip children to deal with nutritional and dietary choices, ultimately initiating behavioural change as their relationship with food matures earlier. Empathy on the children’s and adult’s sides of the healthy nutrition conversation is important to establish this relationship in children’s nutritional decisions. The main challenge for nutrition education is not in shortterm diversions, but long-term changes in behavioural responses in media literacy. A constructionist approach of helping children work through advertising by improving their media vocabulary would be a more sustainable approach to enhancing their ability to decode advertising rhetoric and in turn forming their own informed opinion and responses. Industry referenced educational content intent on healthy lifestyles can balance the prevalent advertising messages leading to a more balanced overall media that children are exposed to.