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Metaphors we play with: A psychological investigation of transfer from game systems.

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Games are capable of conveying meaning via their mechanics. This is an information channel unique to games, which has been called procedural rhetoric (Bogost, 2007). What a player takes from a game depends on their personal reading (Summerville et al., 2018; Treanor, Schweizer, Bogost, & Mateas, 2011), but game creators and scholars can benefit from understanding a typical player’s experience and interpretation. Learning from analogy involves transferring insights from one system to another (Day & Goldstone, 2011; Hofstadter, 2001). This kind of transfer can be encouraged by metaphorical language, as demonstrated in an experiment examining the influence of the language used to describe crime in a newspaper article on reader’s crime-related policy preferences (Thibodeau & Boroditsky, 2011). The contribution of the current study is a psychological experiment investigating the influence of a novel rhetorical game, replacing these differences in metaphorical language in the preceding experiment with differences in game mechanics. Additional interpretive context was gained from the inclusion of other rhetorical games. We found that players perceive rhetorical games to be making an argument, but player interpretations of these arguments and the games’ influence on their attitudes were not necessarily consistent with the games’ intended message.

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