Playing the System: Comparing the Efficacy and Impact of Digital and Non-Digital Versions of a Collaborative Strategy Game


DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG
Dundee, Scotland: Digital Games Research Association and Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games, August, 2016
Number: 1
Volume: 13
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

The present research compared the experiences and outcomes afforded by digital and non-digital games. In a randomized experiment, a sample of youth, ages 11-17, played a cooperative public health game presented in either a non-digital format (board game) or digital format (mobile app). Relative to baseline scores reported in a no-game control condition (N = 30), players of the non-digital version of the game (N = 28) exhibited significantly higher post-game systems thinking performance and more positive valuations of vaccination, whereas players of a nearly identical digital version (N = 30) did not. This discrepancy was accounted for by key differences in play that emerged: specifically, players of the digital game exhibited a more rapid play pace and shorter turn length, and discussed strategies and consequences less frequently and with less depth. The implications for the use of games to facilitate cognitive growth and learning are discussed. Keywords