Social gaming for change: Facebook unleashed


  • Jennifer R. Whitson Carleton University
  • Claire Dormann University of Ottawa



social gaming, games for change, game design, Facebook, social networking


The notion that we can positively change behaviours through games and play has long been accepted by social change game creators. In this paper, we argue that social change games should meet social gaming. Thus, we study the characteristics of Facebook style games and of the platform itself. We first discuss the positive traits of social gaming like the pro–social game mechanics, asynchronous multiplayer gameplay and the influence of the social infrastructure. Then, we consider how some of these factors can negatively impact social change games and show how these weaknesses can be addressed with careful forethought. Ultimately, we propose a novel strategy for the design of social change games and highlight how we can move forward to develop them.

Author Biographies

Jennifer R. Whitson, Carleton University

Jennifer R. Whitson is a sociology Ph.D. candidate at Carleton University, and a researcher with the Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab. Her current research interests include social influences on game development processes, digital identity management, and governance in online domains. Her most recent work includes an article on game development in the Fibreculture Journal, issue 16.

Claire Dormann, University of Ottawa

Claire Dormann is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Her research is dedicated to investigating new technology for lifelong learning through the design of novel forms of play and learning. Current projects relate to affective learning and computer games, social change games as well as urban games and communities. Her more recent book contribution was for the Handbook of research on improving learning and motivation through educational games: Multidisciplinary approaches, and an ongoing project relates adventure games. Her expertise includes computer games, affective design, educational technology, and human-computer interaction.




How to Cite

Whitson, J. R., & Dormann, C. (2011). Social gaming for change: Facebook unleashed. First Monday, 16(10).