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Playing with empathy: digital role-playing games in public meetings

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Springer, London


Digital role-playing games can be an effective tool for augmenting deliberation in a community planning process. We study the implementation of a game called Participatory Chinatown---a 3D, multiplayer game designed to be played in the shared physical space of a master planning meeting in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood. This research examines how role-play can affect the way people understand local issues and engage with their community. It also points to the challenges of extending player empathy from the magic circle of gameplay to the larger context of a community meeting. It suggests that emotional engagement with character and or space does not easily translate into a rational decision-making process. The authors make suggestions for future research that might address this challenge.


Gordon, Eric; Schirra, Steven (2011): Playing with empathy: digital role-playing games in public meetings. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Communities and Technologies - C&T '11. DOI: 10.1145/2103354.2103378. Springer, London. pp. 179-185. Full Papers. The Edge, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. 29 June – 2 July 2011