Media Literacy: Using a Game to Prompt Self-Reflection on Political Truth Biases

  • Ralph Vacca New York University


In this paper we examine how games can both capture player biases around truthfulness and facilitate self-reflection on such patterns of biases as a pedagogical approach to media literacy. Our focus is on the study of a game called Fibber, conducted with 344 participants online. The gameplay entails guessing whether statements made by presidential candidates are mostly factual and receiving aggregate feedback on their judgment patterns and potential truth biases. Specifically we sought to answer the questions: 1) how can the game prompt self-reflection in players, 2) what player characteristics are linked to self-reported acts of self-reflection and biases, and 3) how can the study inform future designs of media literacy and self-reflection games? Our results suggest that efforts to promote self-reflection in truth biases – a useful media literacy technique – may be facilitated through aggregation of in-game decisions that can serve as en end-of-game self-reflection prompt. Furthermore, self-reflection on potential political truth biases may be supported by specific in-game behaviors and player characteristics such as gender and political orientation. Future work includes a more experimental comparison of specific game mechanics and qualitative data to better understand the self-reflection process and possible subsequent changes in behavior as a result of self-reported acts of self-reflection. 


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November 29, 2015