Maria Sayans

Maria Sayans


Roundtable Leader



Are Games "Time Well Spent"?

Videogames are the archetypical persuasive technology, where design, entertainment, and rewards all come together to drive engagement. With the growth of free-to-play and games-as-a-service models over the last decade, videogames have become ever more successful at seeking and driving engagement. As the focus sharpens on persuasive technologies in general, and on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube in particular, and their impact on users and on society, the conversation around games has mostly centered on loot boxes and violence. So far.

We are now an industry that has access to the greatest share of entertainment time of under 18s, and as such is shaping the values and norms of the generations that are currently developing. Perhaps we can do better than just defending ourselves when under attack. What proactive, broad and future-looking approaches could we take to make sure that games are time better spent? When it comes to dealing with tech that is so finely tuned to our limbic system, is the customer always right? Can we afford to leave this to parental controls? Is there an opportunity to bring humane design values into games design, to equip game design professionals and leaders with frameworks and venues for discussion? In this roundtable, I hope we will discuss the problem space, whether we should be looking to big tech for inspiration on how to tackle it (spoiler alert, I think the answer is "no"), and ways in which we could be doing better.