Collaborative game development with indigenous communities; A theoretical model for ethnocultural empathy

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Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Location:
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2019 Horton
Date
2019
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
New Media Game and Design Production
Language
en
Pages
97 + 8
Series
Abstract
This thesis studies how collaboratively designed games can be used as a means to empathically share cultural perspectives and emotions between unrelated communities. The paper also discusses some of the diversity issues present within the video game industry, especially those dealing with Indigenous cultural content, and to promote the “world games” movement of inclusive game production. The project began with an examination of various concepts that make up the current psychological theory of empathy. Academic findings on cultural empathy were specifically explored, and Wang et. al’s (2003) theory of ethnocultural empathy was examined. A literature review continued with further examination of the methods for empathic game design and production. The literature also considered how specific game elements and practices of intercultural sensitivity function within collaborative game design and development, leading to a more in-depth study of co-development with Indigenous communities. From this, two theoretical models were developed and proposed. The Ethnocultural Empathy Analysis model looked specifically at methods for e-empathic game design, and the Intercultural Sensitivity model presented reflective questions for Indigenous co-development. These models were then applied to three game project case studies. Two of the studies examined the commercial games, Never Alone and Mulaka. The third study, the Sámi Game Jam, included a personal reflection of my first-hand experience in an Indigenous co-development setting. Finally, the results of this thesis proposed ways that games, as a unique, interactive medium, can be successfully used to both address, and even eliminate, much of the cultural disconnection and ignorance present in today’s world.
Description
Supervisor
Junnila, Miikka
Thesis advisor
Junnila, Miikka
Keywords
empathy, ethnocultural, culture, games, game design, indigenous, collaborative, game development
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