Game Research Special Interest Group: Games for Behavior Change

Persuasive games for effective behavior change

Motivation and Impact 

In parallel with contemporary technological and self-care developments, a new field of interaction technology has emerged: so-called ‘persuasive technology’. Based on motivation and behavior models from psychology and the social sciences more broadly, technological systems are introduced that support users in changing attitudes, beliefs and behavior. Technology enables persuasive strategies such as nudging, repetition, social influence and gamification. Games also allow people to ‘emerge’ in an action, enabling them to simulate actions, which may help for example in establishing new habits. Changing behavior is often necessary to tackle various societal problems, such as obesity, alcohol abuse, personal bankruptcy, organ shortage, adolescent risk behavior, and speeding. Governments primarily rely on non-game solutions, including incentives, bans/mandates, information campaigns, and nudges. The role of games in behavior change by governments has not been sufficiently explored yet.

Societal and scientific impact. Games for behavior change can contribute to solving many societal problems, including improving wellbeing, sustainability, safety, collaboration/relationships, finance, and public management. Scientific impact will be achieved by combining the expertise from different disciplines to work on the following research questions.


Our work in games for behavior change is organized around the following research questions.

  • How can games help in sustaining behavior change?
  • How can personalization and user modeling make such games more effective?
  • What is the role of rewards, virtual agents, and music in the process of behavior change support through games?
  • How can games reliably measure:
    • People’s current attitudes, behavior, and skills (e.g. self-regulation skills)?
    • Personal characteristics that may impact the most effective ways of stimulating behavior change (e.g. personality, affective state, cultural background)?
  • What is the impact of games in achieving supported and effective behavior change?
  • To what extent do games influence socially desired behavior (e.g., recycling, non-discrimination)?