It turns out that the characters we play and the stories they’re in can change our patterns of behavior and our attitude towards others. Armed with better stories, game developers can change the world.
Imagine the latest Halo game with an all new DLC. As Master Chief during election season, it’s your civic duty to get to a voting booth, no matter how many Grunts get in your way. This could be the near future if game writers decide to embrace the responsibilities that come along with the latest research from Tiltfactor’s Geoff Kaufman.
Kaufman’s recent study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examines the phenomenon of ‘experience-taking.’ The principle is that certain types of fiction, specifically those where the participant can take on the identity of the protagonist, push the participant to merge the character with their selves, “feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own.”
One particular part of the study shows promise to provide a solution to the political conflict arising from Halo 4’s scheduled release date.