Conference Proceeding

Playfulness-driven design: From ludos to tackling economic abuse



Bernardi C, Alhamdan N, Mendieta C & Pham D (2021) Playfulness-driven design: From ludos to tackling economic abuse. In: , 23.09.2021-26.09.2021.

This paper examines the role of playfulness in the context of primary prevention strategies aimed at raising awareness about abuse in Intimate Partnership Violence, specifically focusing on economic abuse and digital games. Current research on economic abuse in the context of Intimate Partnership Violence (or IPV) remains relatively scant, and the information needs of victims of this form of abuse remain largely unexplored. Existing research about information-seeking behaviours of victims of other forms of abuse is skewed towards women who survived abusive, and primarily violent, heterosexual relationships. This approach has been replicated in various communication campaigns and awareness efforts, effectively excluding LGBTQ+ victims, non-heterosexual relationships, non-violent instances of abuse, and victims that are both aware and unaware of their situation. Likewise, research on playfulness engages with different types of educational theoretical frameworks but there is limited information and research on how playfulness and gaming logics can be applied and embedded in preventive strategies to minimise the occurrence of abuse in general, and economic abuse in the specific case of this research project. The paper syntheses literature from information behaviour, marketing and consumer behaviour, and builds on Adult Playfulness Trait State (APTS) to present a comprehensive theoretical model of playfulness-driven primary prevention strategies design. The model serves to both clarify and refine the meaning of playfulness in primary prevention strategies which are specifically designed to address, tackle, and minimise the impact of abuse. A multi-methods design involving the creation and testing (n=50) of a digital serious game about economic abuse, and three focus groups with different and intersectional audiences is employed to validate the theoretical model. The findings discuss the effectiveness of designing and delivering playfulness-driven primary prevention strategies focused on abuse that overcomes gendered narratives of abuse and can attract multiple and diverse audiences. The paper wants to contribute a novel and more inclusive understanding of playfulness in the context of preventive communication, which allows it to employ playfulness without trivialising the issue of abuse and recognises the complexity of its victims.