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Creating an Immersive and Entertaining Game for Raising Internet Privacy Awareness (Master Thesis)

April 8, 2015

Committe: Patrick Kelley (chair), Lydia Tapia, and Joel Castellanos

Date: Thursday, April 9, 2015
Time: 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: FEC 141

Title: Creating an Immersive and Entertaining Game for Raising Internet Privacy Awareness

Abstract

The continuous evolution in the pervasiveness and connectedness of technology is a subject of growing concern. Databases, smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearables are all united through a single global network—the Internet. This growth has resulted in social networks and other data-collecting applications becoming a major part of life for many people. To address emerging threats and growing concerns, our goal is to present internet users with a simulation that helps them consider the actions that they take when online. To do so, we have created a narrative game, Immaculacy, which is intended to raise awareness in common privacy issues that many internet users encounter.

Immaculacy is an interactive story that is set in a slightly dystopian future with a world that is littered with privacy issues. We have completed the prologue and first act of the game to serve as a demonstration for testing purposes. The demo consists of twenty-five scenes, three mini-games, and features twenty-one unique characters. Events unfold within the game based on hidden scores that are maintained throughout gameplay. In total, there are four scoring scales that we maintain: data leaking, government suspicion, character morality, and reputations with other major characters. These scores are calculated based on specific decisions made by the player both in dialogue and in interactions with the world. Throughout the narrative, we allow the player to experience many privacy issues through their explorations of a world filled with hyper surveillance and connectivity. To verify the entertainment value ofImmaculacy, demonstrations and informal playtesting have been conducted in which feedback was received in improvements that can be made to the game mechanics and interface. Additionally, we are beginning formal user tests to test the educational value of the game and to further test how entertaining Immaculacy is. Ultimately, we aim to create an engaging environment which presents players with situations and choices intended to encourage them to consider their own personal behavior when using online services.