The Game of Life: How Playing Gamified Interactive Narratives Affects Career Planning in Cambodia

Lauren B. Frank, Paul Sparks, Sheila T. Murphy, Lizzie Goodfriend, Paul Falzone


To improve economic opportunity in Cambodia, we used social cognitive theory to develop gamified, interactive narratives using mobile phones. Participants guided their chosen character toward their “dream job” goal while encountering a series of barriers along the way. Participants (N = 1,625) were randomly assigned to one of four message frequency experimental conditions: a no-play control condition or playing the interactive narrative one, two, or five times. Compared with not playing the interactive narrative (control), those who played showed higher perceived self-efficacy, response efficacy, and behavioral intentions. Playing more times was associated with less attentional focus and enjoyment, but greater narrative understanding and behavioral intentions. These results support the promise of interactive technology using basic mobile phones for social and behavioral change. Moreover, this study addresses the important question of how much exposure to an intervention is necessary to affect change.


narrative, interactive narrative, message frequency, exposure, planning behaviors

Full Text: