Original article:

Applying evolutionary psychology to a serious game about children’s interpersonal conflict

Evolutionary Psychology 10(5): 884-898 Gordon P. D. Ingram, School of Science, Society and Management, Bath Spa University, England, g.ingram@bathspa.ac.ukJoana Campos, INESC-ID and Instituto Superior Tecnico, Technical University of Lisbon, PortugalCharline Hondrou, Image, Video and Multimedia Systems Lab, National Technical University of Athens, GreeceAsimina Vasalou, Department of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, EnglandCarlos Martinho, INESC-ID and Instituto Superior Tecnico, Technical University of Lisbon, PortugalAdam Joinson, School of Management, University of Bath, England


This article describes the use of evolutionary psychology to inform the design of a serious computer game aimed at improving 9–12-year-old children’s conflict resolution skills. The design of the game will include dynamic narrative generation and emotional tagging, and there is a strong evolutionary rationale for the effect of both of these on conflict resolution. Gender differences will also be taken into consideration in designing the game. In interview research in schools in three countries (Greece, Portugal, and the UK) aimed at formalizing the game requirements, we found that gender differences varied in the extent to which they applied cross-culturally. Across the three countries, girls were less likely to talk about responding to conflict with physical aggression, talked more about feeling sad about conflict and about conflicts over friendship alliances, and talked less about conflicts in the context of sports or games. Predicted gender differences in anger and reconciliation were not found. Results are interpreted in terms of differing underlying models of friendship that are motivated by parental investment theory. This research will inform the design of the themes that we use in game scenarios for both girls and boys


interpersonal conflict, serious games, preadolescent children, gender

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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