UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ethics in immersive gameworlds : personal growth and social change Boskic, Natasha


This research was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of ethical issues confronting Alternative Reality Game (ARG) players who, when faced in a gameworld with actual life problems, must collectively reach solutions which are expressed through narratives and critical literacy. The aim of this research was to draw on the experience of game players engaging in the ARG, “Urgent Evoke,” in order to respond to the following research questions: 1) What kinds of moral functioning are evident in human play in immersive gameworlds; 2) How can players and educators who use these spaces grow as individuals in their ethical sensibilities? The method of analysis for this study was virtual ethnography, including pre- and postgame surveys and interviews and the analysis of artifacts created during the game. The four-component model of moral functioning (Narvaez & Lapsley, 2005) was used as a framework for analysis with the following main categories: judgment, sensitivity, motivation, and action. However, because Narvaez and Lapsley’s division in skills and sub-skills appeared too inflexible for broad understanding of the behaviours under review, additional coding was applied. Study results suggest that ARGs motivate players to contribute to the game, and that through such contribution participants may arrive at understandings that encourage them to make changes in their behaviours outside of the gameworld. In the four component areas, the ARG offered fertile space for growth and learning through discussion, negotiation, and reflection. The study suggests that ARGs can be used successfully to encourage sensitivity to questions of ethics.

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