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Makri, E.G. Cards Against Calamity Learning Game: Civics, Negotiation, Sustainability. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 05 December 2023).
Makri EG. Cards Against Calamity Learning Game: Civics, Negotiation, Sustainability. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 05, 2023.
Makri, Eleni G.. "Cards Against Calamity Learning Game: Civics, Negotiation, Sustainability" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 05, 2023).
Makri, E.G.(2022, November 14). Cards Against Calamity Learning Game: Civics, Negotiation, Sustainability. In Encyclopedia.
Makri, Eleni G.. "Cards Against Calamity Learning Game: Civics, Negotiation, Sustainability." Encyclopedia. Web. 14 November, 2022.
Cards Against Calamity Learning Game: Civics, Negotiation, Sustainability

Learning games for instruction constitute a progressively important and mutually universal challenge for academics, researchers, and software engineers worldwide. Gaming offers immersive space for interaction and co-creation of successful negotiation and conflict management, civic learning and sustainable development attributes in higher education and workplace context. 

learning games negotiation/conflict resolution civics/sustainability development tertiary education

1. Introduction

“In the first turns of the game, we tried to increase the satisfaction of the inhabitants by improving the infrastructure… It was only after the first flood that we discovered the disadvantages of this strategy when we had to spend a lot of money to repair the damage. The safety of the inhabitants should have been taken into account from the beginning” [1].
“I have been very lucky and successful in college because I have received the support of others as well, and I have been a really active and involved student …” [2] (p. 30).
Learning-game technology seems to have emerged as a medium of social change, assisted by its integrated virtual interactivity [3] (p. 723), fostering learning and innovation [4] by offering spaces for collaboration and knowledge creation or co-creation [5]. They tend to make the learning of concepts enjoyable through exercise, trial and error, reflective action, reiteration, and experimenting. They can be adapted to diverse modes of learning, motivating students to engage in problem-solving, creative thinking, social/peer learning, and agency of innovation [6][7]. This includes social networking and empowerment to start making deliberate decisions and acting properly, taking into account economic, social, and environmentally sustainable current and future development, which seem to be relevant in a civics-associated capacity [8][9]. Learning games are considered to “have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement. This does not mean that serious games are not, or should not be, entertaining[10] (p. 14). They have been adapted to diverse teaching and learning settings and disciplines worldwide, including medicine and public health [11], armed forces training [12], STEM education [13], foreign language and culture literature [14], sustainable resource management [15], business management [16], civic education [17], mathematics [18], and physics [19], among others. Endorsing edutainment—including realism/authenticity (designed in an artificial real-life context), social interface/interaction (single- to multi-player), and actions/tasks to be performed (active learner/player with AR/VR game mechanics or more inactive agency) [20]—has been linked to positive learner knowledge, attitudes, and skills; particularly, both domain- and subject-specific (e.g., computer programming [21]) and/or transferable/transversal skills [22]. Additionally, game design that has been performed by the learners/players themselves, as co-creators, has been indicated to encourage reflection (and/or shared reflection) in such a range that improves traditional teaching, learning instruction, and judgment [23]. In addition, their influence on social behavior appears to be present whenever learners/players discuss the issues raised during gaming with their families, friends, peers, and/or educators, described as “civic chat” [24]. In this sense, as the latter researcher has suggested, learning games may be conceptualized as socializing actors that have a place in the social interaction of their learners and whose effects should be positioned and explored within daily life and not seen as discrete activities.
Collective/civic action and/or engagement, along with sustainable development—which is closely connected with conflict resolution—incorporated into peace education (among others) may be well-promoted through learning games [25]. Engaged and informed citizens can contribute to social problem-solving and improve the well-being, prosperity, and equity of local communities, as well as society at a national and international level [26]. Hence, the target of such gaming ought to facilitate “ongoing and sustained participation in civic life” [27] (p. 342), drawing on the ongoing worldwide initiative of “re-blossoming civic learning and engagement” [28] (p. 64) across people’s life spans. Nevertheless, empirical evidence on the assessment of learning games and traditional classroom instruction seems to have reached neither a definite view of learning performance across diverse learner groups and disciplines nor fixed associations between negotiation/conflict and civics/sustainability management, especially in higher education [29]. In this respect, therefore, by exploring negotiation/conflict management and civics/sustainability in the context of teaching and learning in higher-education graduates (through the use of learning games across university students as proximal to the workforce), researcher might additionally disentangle the learning attributes that learning games might reveal as rising—though not all-embracing—instructional tools for negotiation/conflict and civics/sustainability management teaching and learning in tertiary education and adult-learning contexts.

2. Games for Conflict Resolution/Management

Alhabash and Wise (2012) [30] have reported on their study involving 68 undergraduate advertising course students in a USA university. They were assigned to play either the character of the Palestinian president (N = 35) and/or that of the Israeli prime minister (N = 33) while interacting with PeaceMaker, a learning game aimed at instructing them in peaceful conflict management. Before gaming, the participants were introduced to the experimental procedure and first completed a pre-test inventory, which included their attitudes towards Palestinians and Israelis in terms of them being favorable, prone to violence or democracy, targeting civilians from the other side, and intention toward peaceful resolution. Then, they were exposed to different photos of Palestinians and Israelis and asked to state their perception of nationality and their degree of valence and arousal whilst looking at the presented pictures, based on their rating of the latter. After finishing the pre-test assessment, the participants played the game for 20 min, being assigned the character of either the Palestinian president and/or the Israeli prime minister, as above. After the completion of the game, the students were instructed to fill in the same post-test instrument and were debriefed about the experimental procedure followed. After gameplay, a positive change was indicated in the student’s attitudes toward Palestinians and a negative one toward Israelis, reflecting an attitude change attributed to the learning and game mechanics. Gameplayers assuming the character of the Palestinian president reported a significant unfavorable change in their perceptions towards Israelis when comparing their pre- and post-test gaming assessments, accordingly. Their peers assigned to assume the character of the Israeli prime minister did not indicate any significant differentiation in their perceptions toward the Israelis when comparing their before- and after-test gameplay scores. The students that assumed the character of the Israeli prime minister did not indicate a significant difference in their appraisal of Palestinians when comparing the before- and after-test gaming assessments, while their counterparts taking the character of the Palestinian president indicated significantly more favorable perceptions towards Palestinians when comparing the before- and after-test gaming measurements.
Marocco et al. (2015) [31] have reported on their study using Enact, a learning game aimed at instructing learners/players in negotiation and conflict resolution/management skills by interacting with virtual reality agents. The game is designed around eight diverse scenarios considering negotiation and conflict management real-life cases and assesses the negotiation strategies of learners/players adopted based on [32], including five negotiation and conflict resolution styles mapped into two fundamental dimensions (care for self and care for others), as follows: (a) Integration (increased level of care for self and others), (b) obligation (decreased care for self and increased care for others), (c) domination (increased care for self and decreased care for others), (d) avoidance (decreased care for self and decreased care for others), and e) compromise (in-between care for self and others). The learners/players assumed different agent roles under each scenario and interacted/negotiated with diverse virtual agents. Before the gameplay experience, an online survey on competencies deemed as related to negotiation and conflict resolution across three countries (Spain, Turkey, and Italy) revealed the following outcomes: Successful communication (90%), understanding, and being put into anothers’ shoes (70%), along with taking decisions (65%) were the responses reported in Spain; efficient communication (80%), problem-solving (50%), understanding and being put into others shoes (50%), and creative thinking skills (50%) were the corresponding responses in Turkey; and, finally, critical thinking skills (64%) and active listening (64%) completed the relevant findings from Italy. The game prototype was evaluated in two public sessions run by the University of Plymouth, UK. The first one involved 152 learners/players aged 6–60, who returned favorable feedback for the game content and user interface, being also interested in future improvements to the game. The second one included 39 learners/players, who were required to practice four diverse game scenarios and offer corresponding feedback and debriefing comments. Overall, positive attitudes were again indicated for the game learning and design mechanics, with declared interest in future gaming under different scenarios than the ones addressed.

3. Games for Civic Learning/Sustainability

Gordon and Baldwin-Philippi (2014) [33] have reported on their research on the Community PlanIt (CPI) learning game designed for civics-related learning. The game was designed to offer instruction on local planning in favor of civic-life learning. There were two gameplay sessions nine months apart: the first included seven game missions in Boston, USA, each lasting five days, with an overall 35 days of gaming, 451 enrolled players, and more than 4600 feedback comments. The second took place in Detroit, USA, and involved three game missions at seven days each, for an overall 21 days of gaming, including 1043 enrolled players providing 8400 feedback comments. In particular, 31% of the Boston gamers were high school students, with their peers in Detroit gaming rounds being 35 years old or younger. Registered players in both cities originated from diverse social-economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds. User experience surveys for both in-game groups were developed in collaboration with local authorities in Boston and Detroit. Focus groups and interview data gathered indicated that the CPI game appeared to receive favorable learner/player perceptions towards fostering reflection at an interpersonal and group level, as the users were able to form teams within the game system and shared interests and network relationships with multiple stakeholders (e.g., educational institutions, local authorities, and religious communities), and could discuss civics-associated challenges with their counterparts and other stakeholders from different age groups, exercising shared trust linked to institutional and civic participation trust and engagement.
Damani, Sardeshpande, and Gaitonde (2015) [34] have elaborated on the FloodSim learning game, which is aimed at instructing students about flooding risk prevention and management in London, UK, leading to civic engagement. The learners/players assume the role of flood policy consultants to address the challenge of flooding by implementing or choosing from a number of strategies under a pre-defined budget. Within a month, 25,701 individuals had played the game, with the vast majority of them (38.2%) being 21–30 years old, followed by 25.7% being 21–45 years of age and 22.8% 11–20 years old. The feedback received by the general public and students of all ages in relation to the gaming learning experience was favorable, indicating positive views with regard to awareness, proactive action, and effective management of flood hazards and related policy-making among stakeholders.
Peng, Lee, and Heeter (2010) [3] have described their study comparing Darfur is Dying—a social change and civic/sustainability-associated learning game mapped into an emerging refugee crisis—with a corresponding text/language-based presentation instruction. Their aim was to explore which mode of presentation (i.e., learning game or text-based) was more successful in instigating positive perceptions on facilitating the refugee/humanitarian crisis scenario set. A total of 133 undergraduate students with communication technology and advertising degrees participated in the two studies followed, as briefly indicated in the following. In study 1, 65 of the participants were assigned to the gameplay session and 68 of their peers to the corresponding text/language-based mode instruction. The latter was designed according to the context probes offered in the game version. Before gameplay or text reading, a pre-test inventory, including assessments of empathy perceived and engagement with and prior knowledge of the humanitarian issue at hand was completed by the attendees. An additional illustration of the Darfur emergency setting was also provided after inventory allocation. When the pre-test questionnaire had been filled in, the participants were guided to proceed with playing the first section of the game, with up to three attempts, and their text/language-based peers spent a few minutes reading the Darfur emergency scenario. Once finished, both groups were guided to complete the post-test inventory, which included items on role-taking in terms of their motivation to assist the refugees in the corresponding crisis. Gamers, in comparison to text/language readers, were indicated to be more willing to give money to instigate awareness about the Darfur humanitarian crisis, to sign in a petition with a view to end the emerging crisis, to communicate the corresponding crisis with their social networks and family members, and assume a greater role-taking attitude towards addressing the fuelled crisis, where role-taking was indicated as a partial mediator of the association between instruction medium (game/text) and willingness to assist. Study 2 included 120 undergraduate students that took part in the experimental condition: 40 were randomly assigned to a gameplay session, 40 of their peers watched a video recording of the Darfur is Dying game, and the last 40 of their counterparts read through a scenario/storyline about Darfur, with targeted individuals for role-taking. The same willingness to assist inventory as in Study 1 was also employed in Study 2, with the addition of a game employability measure. The gameplay group indicated higher levels of willingness to donate to raise awareness about the Darfur crisis, sign a petition to resolve the crisis, communicate about the challenges of the crisis to friends and family, forward the provided information about the Darfur crisis to the wider public, and assume role-taking initiatives to address Darfur crisis; however, contrary to Study 1, no mediating effect of gameplay in the association between instruction medium (game/text/watch) and eagerness to assist was observed, thereby triggering further research. Rather surprisingly, the gamers indicated a less enjoyable experience in relation to watchers and readers, reflecting an issue to explore regarding improvement of the particular game mechanics and re-assessing its enjoyability.
Solinska-Nowak et al. (2018) [35] have presented a comprehensive overview of 45 non-commercial gamification and learning games-related tasks reflecting civic/sustainability in terms of disaster risk management challenges. Of the aforementioned 45 games, 13 of them were indicated for college and university students, and the other 39 were designed for adults, the general public, and/or specific purpose (expert) audiences in order to either instruct or prepare them for city management and/or prevent DRM-related risks. Disaster-risk-management-associated game attributes tend to include raising awareness and addressing natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and pandemic-related diseases (e.g., dengue), among others. Team-working, collaboration, networking, sense of community, resilience, improvement of communication and decision-making, sustainable resource management, data crowd-sourcing, and spatial capacity building were noted as features of practice in geographical information systems (GIS) settings. Collectively, pre-and post-gaming assessments indicated improved natural risk awareness and preparedness of the community in the case of hazardous events, including property management- and community service learning-related actions. The researchers suggested that gender issues and/or cultural diversity might be added to the learning and game mechanics, along with improved social presence and interaction between characters/agents and debriefing instructions, whenever possible.
Finally, Chatziiliou and Paraskeva (2017) [36] have described their study on 40 undergraduate students, which aimed to assess their civic capacity, creative thinking, negotiation, and teamwork skills during their pre- and post-gameplay experience of a learning game designed and deployed in the Virtual World of Second Life based on a true storyline of conflict in Ancient Greek mythology. Post-gaming, the learners indicated increased levels of civic-related attributes in relation to the corresponding ones before gaming.
In summary, the aforementioned background literature seems to indicate improved post-gaming negotiation/conflict management and civic learning/sustainability outcomes for adult learners across diverse countries, universities, courses, and context conditions.


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