In search of transformational play : a qualitative analysis of narrative serious games
Winzeler, Elena Marie
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This report aims to improve understanding of how narrative design elements in serious games contribute to the gameplay experience, with the goal of providing guidance in narrative serious game design. Despite the strong theoretical justification for narrative serious games, no consensus exists regarding what makes an effective narrative. Transformational play theory provides a framework for narrative serious game design based on the intersecting elements of person with intentionality, content with legitimacy, and context with consequentiality. This report examines high-quality narrative serious games through the lens of transformational play to derive explanations for design effectiveness. A diverse sample of three narrative serious games is examined: Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey, Quandary, and Citizen Science. The findings are described for each game, and compared across games. The significance of the findings to narrative serious game design are discussed and distilled into a set of narrative game design heuristics.