For my first thesis draft I divided the thesis in 4 chapter and assigned an estimated number of words for each one of those.
1st Chapter – Emergency of climate change
2nd Chapter – Design for sustainability
3rd Chapter – How to influence people? Challenges or games?
4th Chapter – The end justify the means
How can we incentivise and change people behaviours in order to make them more responsible towards energy saving through gamification and the social network sharing culture?
Starting from this proposed research question, my dissertation aims to analyse new ways and possibilities for design to shape humans behaviour in order to make them more responsible for a cause which interest everyone in the world. The study is strictly related to psychology, which being the main discipline exploring human mind and behaviour, is fundamental to plan a design process aiming to persuade people.
After speaking of the sustainable intent of the design, the discussion is focused on how to influence people involving them in activities, rather than imposing them activities to do.
1st CHAPTER – EMERGENCY OF CLIMATE CHANGE (about 800 words)
The first chapter starts with a contextualisation of the project in the current environmental crisis, which is bringing the planet to a drastic climate change. Besides the appeal to intervene urgently, I define the roles which everyone should play in this contest. If politicians and corporations leaders must take measures to safeguard the environment and reduce the carbon fuel emissions, adopting new laws and policies. Engineers should keep developing technologies optimising processes, reducing energy waste and improving renewable energy systems. While a task which regards strictly designers is to educate people to responsible and sustainable behaviours. Education which cannot be mechanically forced, but subtly induced.
2nd CHAPTER – DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABILITY (about 1500 words)
In the second chapter I claim why designers must be concerned about sustainability, rather than marketing/advertising or other “less important” practice. I therefore, mention ideas expressed by famous designers in the past, such us Victor Papanek, the funder of sustainable design and Ken Garland, initiator of The First Things First Manifesto, as well as more recent voices, such as David Berman and Chris Sherwin.
Furthermore, I remark how during my academic career I have been consistently focused on design for sustainability: with my BA dissertation project, directly connected to a project during my exchange studies in Portugal, and with the project for Physical Computing, developed during my MA. This latter project is different, but somehow consistent with my dissertation project, indeed it is characterised by a critical view towards smart objects, hinting that educating people, “forcing” their behaviours with smart objects is not the right way to proceed.
3rd CHAPTER – HOW TO INFLUENCE PEOPLE? CHALLENGES OR GAMES? (about 2700 words)
The third chapter will be significantly more substantial than the first two, it’s the bulk of my dissertation. At this stage, indeed, I start to analyse how as designers we can actually influence people behaviour. A sort of starting point in this discussion is the fact that people if challenged assume different behaviours: they are able to do things which normally wouldn’t do. This thesis is supported by the psychological studies of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyithe, who introduced the concept of “flow”, which I’ll go briefly to explain.
Challenge brings directly to the process of gamification, which after a general overview is analysed exclusively for its effectiveness in changing long term behaviours. Taking in considerations some examples of gamified activities aiming, specifically, to save energy and educate users to sustainable behaviours, I analyse them critically, arguing why some applications are better than others and why. From this will emerge an entire critic to the concept of gamification, largely backed by Ian Bogost, Sebastian Deterding, John Ferrara and others, which propose the concept of Persuasive Games and Persuasive Gameful Design, something indeed much more effective and, in my opinion, reasonable.
Concluding this chapter I explain also why the sharing culture emerged from social networks, could be only beneficial for the sake of persuading a greater number of people to change their behaviour, as the influence of such medium is undeniable and worth to be implemented.
4th CHAPTER – THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS (about 500 words)
In the last chapter, I argue that what I intend to do through persuasive games is not something ethical, as it is actually a deception. I induce people to have a certain behaviour without really convincing them, but only deceiving them, hiding the final purpose behind a game/fun activity. This is justified by a pessimistic view in which humans, nowadays, are used to be manipulated by capitalism and his tools, so the only way to actually act on a large scale is to use the same weapons of capitalism, mass deception.