Case Study: Squire’s Quest! 2
Squire’s Quest II: Saving the Kingdom of Fivealot is a 10-episode serious video game that was designed to increase the fruit and vegetable consumption among 4th and 5th graders. The game was a fantasy based video game in which the player was a squire who must complete quests in order to save the kingdom from the evil King Sssynster and become a knight.
The game was focused on long-term behavioral change that would use the story to immerse children in an environment that captured their attention and increased the likelihood to incorporate healthy eating into their daily lives. The game featured a parent education component to align with what the children were doing during different stages of the game. The parents received an e-newsletter that featured an overview of each episode of the game and included terms that their children would be exposed to in the game and might be unfamiliar with. This inclusion of the parents in the actual process seems like it would be an important component to better allow for long-term behavior change. This approach is based upon the idea that having a strong social support system in place is beneficial in meeting goals.
One key component of the game design was that implementation intentions, a specific plan that identifies how to achieve a goal, were shown to be effective in adults, and that “Environmental cues rather than conscious thought trigger a goal-directed response, thereby automating behavior and increasing the likelihood the goal will be attained” (Thompson et al., 2012). This was used in determining the structure of the game and used the story elements to develop a game experience that immersed the player in a world that supported the goals of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. The fantasy environment was created with the goal of improving long-term eating habits.
The game was guided by well-known behavioral modification theories.
Image credit: Thompson et al., 2012
The immersive nature of the game was used to increase the level of exposure to the desired behavior change components: goal setting, creating an implementation intention, developing knowledge and skills related to the desired behavior, and engaging in key behavioral procedures (Thompson et al., 2012). These have all shown to contribute to self efficacy and improve outcome expectations, which have shown to influence satisfaction, which in turns influences the likelihood of long-term behavior modification.
The game provided a fantasy framework for the healthy eating goals, by using quests and challenges as the goals set by the user and awarding badges to a player who has met the previous episodes goals. The game also incorporates mini-games at the end of each episode to promote the retention of information presented in each episode. This is a component that should be considered during the development of any project in which the end goal is education and long-term application of the information.
The game used the actions of the good king (King Brocwell) and the evil king (Kind Sssynster) to strengthen the players resistance to real world temptations by creating story devices that serve as representations of what the player might face outside of the game. The use of story in this case is a strong component of the overall identification of satisfaction being a key quality of long-term behavior modification. The authors of the study note, “Satisfaction is a continual assessment of whether the ‘benefits’ of change were worth the effort to make and/or continue the change” (Thompson et al., 2012). In essence, this game targets children who are learning about the benefits of healthy eating while engaged in a fun way. The likelihood of long-term success in this context would appear to be higher than if the kids were simply exposed to health education in a traditional learning environment.
Thompson, D., Bhatt, R., Lazarus, M., Cullen, K., Baranowski, J., & Baranowski, T. (2012). A Serious Video Game to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Elementary Aged Youth (Squire’s Quest! II): Rationale, Design, and Methods. Journal of Internet Medical Research, 1(2). Retrieved January 15, 2016.