We aim to study the impact of computer-supported roleplaying in changing social perspectives of digital media users. Such media could take the form of videogames, VR systems, training software, and other types of interactive narrative technology.

Understanding systematic patterns in social interactions is a challenge taken up within fields ranging from social computing to sociolinguistics. A particular challenge is understanding the nature of peoples' belief systems expressed during social interactions and how and when those belief systems are subject to change.

For instance, it can be difficult for individuals who hold deeply entrenched, opposing beliefs to productively engage in dialogue. Mutual understanding can improve such encounters, but it can be difficult to push past people’s mental resistance to an idea to reach such an accord.

One approach to lowering this resistance is through roleplaying — indeed, roleplaying has a history of serving diverse aims, including art, entertainment, therapeutic purposes, and political action. To begin addressing this problem, we aim to study the impact of role play in eliciting conceptual change in users of interactive digital media. For this purpose, we leverage and extend the Chimeria identity modeling engine and interactive narrative authoring platform.

Interactive narratives authored using the Chimeria platform serve as testbeds for evaluating and improving upon our approach. Key extensions to Chimeria will include increased narrative expressivity, enhanced identity modeling, and user modeling. In particular, user models trained on telemetry and physiological data will be used to inform dynamic adaptation of interactive narratives to better convey complex ideas to particular users.

Impact Areas