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«Let’s Go Deep into the Game to Save Our Planet!» How an Immersive and Educational Video Game Reduces Psychological Distance and Raises Awareness

ESG (Ecole des Sciences de la Gestion), University of Quebec at Montreal, 315 Rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Montreal, QC H2X 3X2, Canada
Marketing Department, ESG (Ecole des Sciences de la Gestion), University of Quebec at Montreal, 315 Rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Montreal, QC H2X 3X2, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 5774;
Received: 1 April 2022 / Revised: 18 April 2022 / Accepted: 22 April 2022 / Published: 10 May 2022
(This article belongs to the Topic Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability)


Climate change appears to be the ecological issue which benefits from the most attention in the literature, compared to equally alarming situations such as plastic pollution. In fact, waste management issues took a new step with the recent discovery of microplastics in human blood for the first time, as it used to be a hypothesis. Instead of separating those questions, some researchers tend to consider that a link exists between the effects of global warming and plastic degradation in the ocean. Research focusing on the construal-level theory and the psychological distance explain the lack of public interest in the environmental crisis. However, recent studies highlight the empirical support of the psychological distance instead of the CLT, especially regarding climate change, but a few studies explore the psychological distance related to plastic pollution. With that in mind, any means to reduce the perceived psychological distance regarding environmental issues such as plastic pollution might increase their sensitivity and motivation to act. Moreover, the change of habit could be induced by a new event that would disrupt someone’s daily life according to the habit discontinuity hypothesis, and the use of immersive media such as video games might be the solution. Given numerous possibilities of creation with the scenarios, gameplay, public of interest and gaming contexts, video games also influence motivation, engagement and learning ability. We can also find specific components and mechanisms from game design in media that do not focus on entertainment first but on pedagogical purpose: serious games. Thus, this study investigates how immersive media might reduce specific psychological distance dimensions and trigger emotions using an educational video game on plastic pollution, which might play a major role in changing ones’ daily habits. The research uses a qualitative method centered on semi-structured individual interviews and the experimentation of a video game named Plasticity. Results support all the propositions and show that different types of immersion might reduce each dimension of the psychological distance, which is a first, reinforcing environmental awareness and new intentions of pro-environmental behavior. Other areas of discussion are furthered explored.

1. Introduction

At the end of March 2022, the discovery of microplastics in human blood for the first time, during a Danish scientific study, represents an alarming new threshold for the safety of the human species that has just been crossed [1]. Until now, the news focused more on the causes and consequences of climate change, supported by the conclusions of the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [2]. On the one hand, the existence of a causal link between human activity and the increase in historical meteorological phenomena is proven (COP26, 2021). On the other hand, sustainable commitments must be made to avoid the continuation of a scenario that is not very supportive for our ecosystem.
However, if the climate crisis is a cause widely relayed by the academic literature for the past 10 years, it is to the detriment of plastic pollution which benefits from less attention [3]. Although recycling is one of the most responsible behaviors adopted by Quebecers over the age of 18 as said by the Sustainable Consumption Observatory (Observatoire de la Consommation Responsible) of the ESG UQAM [4], only 9% of plastic waste produced annually by Canadians is recycled [5]. In less than 10 years, billions of tons of plastic waste are produced worldwide, with nearly 80% of it being in garbage dumps and the open air [6] and the COVID-19 pandemic has not improved this situation—quite the contrary [7]. This alarming observation is not new, as highlighted by Azzarello and Van Vleet [8], and it is also associated with marine pollution which endangers many species through the ingestion of plastic. In addition, changes in the structure of soils and seabeds pose a long-term threat to both the microorganisms that inhabit the water and to global warming [9]. We must therefore not distinguish these causes by the degree of importance that seems to separate them, at the risk of concealing that their impact on the marine ecosystem is just as negative.
To our knowledge, few studies have explored the interaction between these phenomena even though a link seems to exist [3,9,10]. The latter [3], for example, highlights the effects of global warming and the presence of microplastic particles in the ocean. While the public seems to recognize the importance of acting, changes in behavior do not seem to be adopted by many individuals. The lack of information on the possible long-term impacts of microplastic and its toxicity does not make it possible to grasp the urgency of the situation. Currently, political bodies are being singled out and younger figures are rising up to take even more part in the fight against human negligence [11]. However, all individuals have their share of responsibility and must recognize the impact of their consumption habits on the environment [12]. Indeed, everyone must be an actor in the transition to a more responsible way of life. This means caring for the well-being of future generations, but also preserving the natural environment that will be bequeathed to them [13].
When looking at academic literature, the notion of habit is important to understand this inaction. It reflects an ingrained behavior, which implies that it is difficult to divert an individual’s attention when faced with a change in situation. However, several studies find that a habit can be modified because of an event that changes the course of a lifetime—this is what the theory of habit discontinuity assumes [14,15,16,17]. The use of an awareness campaign to identify the public seems more promising to increase public awareness than the use of “classic” campaigns whose message seems “impersonal” or too “general” to arouse the interest of the greatest number [18]. This decline in interest in environmental issues can be explained by the psychological distance that an individual can take on several dimensions [19]. They find themselves emotionally distant from the information, which would also have an impact on their interest and reflection. It would therefore be relevant to find a medium that can reduce the psychological distance and emotional detachment of an individual by involving them more in an ecological cause. A global commitment to a cause that is out of the ordinary would require individual, personal reflection, based on knowledge that could be shared. According to the Office québécois de la langue française (2012), “ecological awareness” means “the internalization of knowledge of the impacts that human activities may have on the natural environment.” However, knowledge is coupled with learning [20] which can also be based on the objectivity of facts [21,22] and on the subjectivity perceived by an individual [21,23,24].
Video games could then be a medium that allows the awakening of individuals regarding an environmental cause and a community commitment through the sharing of various individual and collective reflections of the players [25]. More studios are relying on games with multiple themes to address ecological issues. In addition, video games are presented as a medium that can be fun, but also educational [26]. “Serious games” take up the characteristics of a video game in an entrepreneurial or school context [27]. In 2018, a study focusing on “serious games” applied to the field of sustainable development, showed that one in three games was part of this theme, with environmental (18%) and social (16%) dimensions mainly addressed [28]. This can indeed be verified by the increasing number of studies on the subject [29,30,31,32,33,34,35].
Thus, by containing multiple scenarios and gameplay possibilities, video games should make it possible to emotionally arouse the players. This should lead to an awareness and reflection on environmental issues that require behavioral modification or improvement, such as plastic pollution. This article first discusses the literature review based on the concepts of psychological distance, video game immersion as well as the contribution of the theory of habit discontinuity, in relation to contemporary environmental issues (waste management, climate change). The qualitative methodology will then be presented. The results and discussion highlighting the existence of an influential relationship between psychological distance, video game immersion and the motivational factors of individuals will conclude the research.

1.1. The Struggle with Lack of Environmental Sensitivity: From Psychological Distance to the Roles of Emotions

Everyone has their own perception of reality, what surrounds it and what moves away from it. This reality can be divided into four dimensions: the present moment and what moves away from it (temporal), the space in which we are located (spatial), the people around us and who are close or not (social) as well as the alternative realities that we could have or could live (hypothetical). In fact, everything that deviates from the reality experienced in the present moment represents a distance for each of the dimensions identified above, and this is what defines psychological distance [36]. A person may not feel concerned (social distance) because the consequences are observed in places too far away (spatial distance) or they cannot project themselves in the coming years (temporal distance) and doubt the urgency of the ecological situation (hypothetical distance). This psychological distance is thus associated with a lack of commitment and interest in the environmental cause [19].
The concept of psychological distance is generally associated with the construal-level theory or CLT, which establishes a relationship between the level of proximity of a situation and the degree of abstraction it represents [37,38]. In other words, the further an event moves away from an individual’s direct experience on several psychological dimensions, the more abstract an individual’s mental representation of this event will be, and therefore less detailed. If the works of some authors [38,39], allow us to note the relevance of the study of psychological distance (as opposed to proximity) and the level of mental representation in the cognitive, affective and behavioral processes of an individual, it is nevertheless possible to note the absence of an empirically verified model that would justify these relationships.
To our knowledge, few studies looked at plastic pollution in relation to the psychological distance perceived by the population. Barnes’ research [10] on the export of waste from developed countries (high-income) to developing countries (low-income) seems to be the most recent in the existing literature. It appears that this waste management solution cannot be sustainable in the long term and the expression “out of sight, out of mind” then takes on its full meaning. Indeed, Barnes [10] assumes that this practice only removes (displaces) the problem of plastic waste management since it still exists but the public from higher-income countries would see it as more abstract and would not reduce its plastic consumption (concrete representation needed). Nevertheless, if Barnes uses psychological distance in his remarks, his research focuses instead on the construal-level theory (CLT). In addition, its study data are taken to a macro (country) and not micro (individual) level, which does not account the individual scale and their motivations, which could possibly explain the empirical support of the CLT theory.
Through the lack of studies on plastic pollution in relation to the climate crisis, and by assuming the existence of a link between these two phenomena, this research also addresses the perception of psychological distance from climate change. Recently, the study by Wang et al. [40] assumed that if a person represents the climate situation (as opposed to an abstract visualization) solidly, it can coincide with a psychological proximity of the problem and promote awareness and action. However, their mixed results allowed them to highlight how the perception of climate change can be a complex topic to define from one person to another [41]. Seeking confirmation of a relationship of interdependence as assumed by the conceptualization of Trope and Liberman [38], it turns out that psychological distance and the level of mental representation (or CLT) act independently, although only psychological distance is statistically supported. It then appears that only the study of psychological distance seems to be a relevant field because the results presented support the hypothesis of a better individual awareness and better intentions for action in the face of climate issues [40].
However, reducing the dimensions of psychological distance is not the only lever for action to improve an individual’s environmental sensitivity [42]. Indeed, the lack of information is also a barrier to the awareness of environmental issues [43]. A lack of interest in deepening knowledge on environmental issues may be due to the representation of the media, which lacks scientific popularization and does not allow the population to identify themselves more, which does not promote an emotional investment on their part [19,44]. This research also assumes that environmental sensitivity requires an emotional connection in addition to knowledge of the ecological situation since sensitivity reflects a certain level of empathy.
The literature confirms the relevance of considering emotional intensity in connection to psychological distance. Thus, following several experiments, Van Boven et al. [45] highlight that high emotional intensity promotes the reduction of psychological distance for certain dimensions (social, temporal and spatial). Nevertheless, it is possible that emotional intensity based on a negative feeling might increase psychological distance, contrary to what the theory proposes. This distance would correspond to the creation of an emotional defense mechanism to regulate the emotions felt, a phenomenon that has been observed in more recent studies [19,46,47,48]. In addition, researchers [48] suggested two “coping strategies” to climate change for people: those focused on the interest in climate change and the desire to act in the hope that the situation improves, and those who distance themselves and reduce the severity of the problem to the point of denying its existence and continuing their life. This last strategy of minimizing the problem associated with the perception of fear assumes that the tone of a message is to be considered: if the establishment of psychological proximity is possible, but the situation is presented in a non-reassuring fatalism, the reactions could be counter intuitive.
Finally, we know that the different dimensions of psychological distance can be influenced [25,38,48]. It may be relevant to find means of communication that can reduce the level of psychological distance on each dimension and maintain the perception of risk to arouse interest in the environmental cause and not the other way around, out of fear or any other sense of negation. Using immersive media seems like a good suggestion. For example, experimentation geographically and temporally close to an environment would allow participants to perceive environmental risks and increase their intentions for action in the days following their experimentation [25,49].

1.2. The Development of Ecological Awareness Using Immersive Media Such as Video Games

As explained earlier, the lack of information is one of the obstacles to the adoption of environmentally friendly behaviors. Yet, we know that all knowledge is coupled with learning [20].
There are many theories related to learning, the writings of which mostly applied to the field of teaching [21,22], although this is not limited to schooling. Particularly, play is considered a source of motivation for “learners” that strengthens their knowledge and influences their behavior by putting them in situations that push their thinking [50]. Play-based learning follows the model of experiential learning based on the contribution of lived experiences to the enrichment of knowledge [23,51,52] and therefore calls for both cognitive reflection and emotions. Indeed, the affective dimension is not to be neglected in the context of learning since it reflects the emotional baggage of an individual. Arnold [53] thus highlights the rich literature that studies the importance of the affective in areas related to learning such as motivation, cooperative learning or individual differences to name a few.
The human being is also a unique individual whose experiences open the discussion and promote the exchange with the other by understanding emotions and interpretations specific to each other. It is this level of reflection that allows them to distinguish the extraordinary from the ordinary [54]. If the extraordinary is based on the intensity of an experience greater than what the ordinary provides, we can define this type of experience as an upsetting event that disrupts a person’s daily life [14,15,16]. In an advertising approach, the development of a surprising narrative (or “storytelling”) makes it possible to capture attention, mark the spirits and give a “transformative” feature to an experienced situation [55,56]. The experience might even be virtual and include its share of stimuli that allows emotional and reflective participation [57], which reinforces the relevance of a video game experience [58] as a medium of communication.
Additionally, as mentioned earlier, an immersive experience seems to have a real utility in reducing the psychological distance perceived by an individual. Despite the lack of descriptive studies on this subject, the use of serious games whose design “serves to improve skills, adapt to an environment, understand a phenomenon or better adhere to a message” [59] while maintaining the codes of video games, offers this possibility and is a mean of learning [60,61,62,63,64]. Serious games are distinguished into two categories: educational games where “the learning objective is implicit” and pedagogical games where “the learning objective is explicit” [65]. By this definition, many experiments discovered in the literature are based on pedagogical games that are less subject to the interpretation of players than educational games and limited in their design. The model proposed by Mitgutsch and Alvarado [66] has the following characteristics to be found in a serious game: graphics, narration, game mechanics and targeting. These characteristics are in line with the dimensions of the game established by Calleja [67] that make it possible to translate the immersive potential of video games: characters (1), narrativity (2), gameplay and interactivity (3), interface and spatiality (4), as well as player particularities and game context (5).
Immersion in video games is a concept that has definitions varying according to the authors. This research considers the work of Ermi [68] taken up in studies on serious games such as that of Hamari et al. [69]. Their work distinguished three types of immersion: sensory immersion, systemic immersion and fictional immersion. Sensory immersion best corresponds to the definition of immersion as a dive and results in the orientation of the player’s senses towards the game, to the point of forgetting the stimuli of their surrounding reality [70]. The fictional immersion echoes the player’s transport into the narrative universe of the game. Finally, systemic immersion refers to the feeling of extreme concentration that results from the stimulation of the mental abilities of the player whose mind somehow “merges” with the mechanics of the game [67,71]. It should be noted that it is possible for a player to know multiple stimuli, so potentially living various immersive experiences. This implies that it is therefore possible that several categories of immersion coexist during a video game experience, with different intensities and influences, which can even be reinforced according to the player’s contact with the game’s constituent elements [72].
If immersion is necessary to reduce psychological distance, we must also think about the elements that keep players motivated to preserve their cognitive and emotional involvement and thus promote their learning. Four characteristics have been identified as potentially motivating in video games: challenge, curiosity, control and fantasy [73]. Imagination and curiosity aroused by the game world refer to the importance of the interactive and narrative dimensions of the game that promote fictional and sensory immersion. Similarly, the proposal of a balance of challenges makes it possible to maintain a state of “flow” [74] in which the player feels in control, and which promotes systemic immersion. The notion of feedback, which is an integral part of the “game cycle”, is also a source of motivation for players and a determinant in their behavior [75]. Positive feedback will, for example, reinforce the player’s sense of control and competence, while negative feedback will motivate the player who feels the need to try their luck again [76]. However, if the feedback negatively compares the scores of players, the one with the lowest score will be less inclined to try their luck again, to the point of abandoning the game.
The motivational factors we have identified correspond to the classic video game and the literature on serious games has not yet been able to propose characteristics explaining the motivation of learners in the face of a serious game because the studies carried out are more exploratory than descriptive [77]. It has nevertheless been suggested that the perception of a lack of control and total autonomy of “serious play” could negatively influence learners’ motivation [78], which goes hand in hand with the characteristics we identified earlier.
In conclusion, the use of a video game experience seems a relevant way to promote the establishment of psychological proximity. This research assumes that manipulating the different characteristics of the game would promote the immersion of players, thus reflecting their commitment and an emotional attachment to what the game environment offers to them [79,80]. It also assumes that this affectivity coupled with the cognitive reflections aroused by game elements would promote the learning of players to the point of questioning their behavior and adopting a more pro-environmental attitude as we have seen in recent studies [25,49] along with the fact that psychological distance is considered relevant in education [81]. This study [25] also assumes the possible need to know the motivations of the participants, because we know, for example, that a person’s living environment greatly influences their interest in environmental causes [82]. Learning more about the background of players would eventually allow us to better understand their emotional charge and their relationship with the dimensions of psychological distance. A long-term objective would be to be able to observe community involvement, awareness that would not require prior interest since environmental issues are global and require active participation and a cooperative effort between citizens [83].
The theoretical modelling established as part of this study (Figure 1) takes up the “game cycle” of Garris et al. [75] and expand it. The player’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivations represent what their background brought them, and their possible expectations related to the game. The different characteristics of the game promote sensory, fictional and systemic immersion that would reduce the perceived psychological distance on certain dimensions (perceived psychological proximity). Then, the player’s gaming phase coupled with continuous feedback on their progress would allow them to have a continuous cognitive and emotional setback during their game session. Thus, this cyclical nature would influence their environmental awareness, to the point of possibly leading to an improvement or even a behavioral and pro-environmental modification.
At the end of the establishment of this theoretical model, the research hypotheses are as follows:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
The adoption of environmentally responsible behaviors is based more on the extrinsic motivations than the intrinsic motivations of an individual.
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Fictional immersion reduces social and temporal distance.
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
Sensory immersion reduces spatial and temporal distance.
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
Systemic immersion reduces the hypothetical distance.
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
The more the video game environment reflects realism for the player, the more the latter associates with it, which reduces their psychological distance.
Hypothesis 6 (H6).
The video game experience promotes players’ thinking and behavioral intentions.

2. Methodology

2.1. An Exploratory Research Framework

The main objective of this research was to pave the way for the potential of exploring the immersive video game approach in raising public environmental awareness. Although the existing literature suggests a link between psychological distance and video game immersion in an environmental context, little research explored these themes together. Thus, the methodological approach adopted was based on exploratory qualitative work, the framework of which will make it possible to confirm or refute the proposals presented previously.
In this research, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 participants, 6 male and 6 female participants, ranging in age from 20 to 40 years. The principle of semantic saturation has been applied. The participants were selected by convenience sample, in the entourage of the researchers as well as by the publication of an ad on a group of the social network Facebook of the “Gameuses du Québec”. While 20 people volunteered to participate in the study, we stopped our interviews at the end of the 12th interviewee, in accordance with the principle specified above.
The interview was divided into four parts. The first part is based on a discussion aimed at knowing the environmental sensitivity of the participants, their knowledges, and responsible behavioral habits via also the suggestion of a scenario. The second part focuses on their appreciation of video games in relation to the game’s features identified in the literature that promote immersion. The last two parts focus on the experience of an ecological video game that we will come back to in more detail following the elements of the interview. Thus, the third part returns to the immersive factors of the game associated with the study of the psychological distance of the players according to their feelings, while the last part is based on their understanding of this video game experience in parallel with their relationship to the environment.

2.2. Experimentation with the Plasticity Game

The existing literature on the relationship between a video game experience and environmental awareness is essentially based on the exploration of serious games. Nevertheless, it appears that the category of games studied was more on pedagogical games that contain clearly identified learning content, sometimes to the detriment of entertaining elements.
Plasticity is one of the few video games focused on ecology but belonging to the category of educational games. This means that the learning components of the game are implicit and subject to the player identification, as well as a more playful design. It was carried out in 2019 as a graduation project from a University of Southern California’s team. Details on the features of this game in relation to its immersive potential are presented in the “Appendix A” section (Figure A1, Figure A2 and Figure A3). Thus, several elements justify the use of this game in the context of this study. On the one hand, Plasticity is cited in recent articles that list video games with an ecological theme [84,85]. On the other hand, Plasticity was a finalist in 2020 for the “best student game” award from the non-profit organization Games for Change (GfC), which has been working for nearly 20 years in support of video game creators. GfC organizes an annual festival dedicated to immersive video game experiences that have a social impact by addressing multiple societal themes (mental illness, environment, politics, …). Finally, the accessibility of the game is a non-negligible argument, being available for free on the Steam dematerialized game distribution platform and can be completed in about 20 min, which allowed our participants to play it in its entirety.
In the adventure of Plasticity, the player embodies a young girl in a post-apocalyptic universe which is overwhelmed by waste and who decides to leave her hometown following the death of her only parent. Her journey must take her to the paradise place of Avalon Island whose environment is supposed to be in total opposition to the polluted world she has always known. Following her journey and the shattering of her illusion, the girl becomes a young adult on Avalon Island and ends up leaving the island to find the world she had abandoned a few years ago.
The themes of this game are oriented towards the denunciation of waste management, particularly with the impact of plastic consumption on the ecosystem [86]. The decisions made by the player in the face of the challenges offered as a child have an impact on the environment they find as an adult.
In order to allow no preparation in advance and to ensure the spontaneity of the answers, the participants in the interview knew beforehand that they would play a video game, without any details being provided on its name and the time allocated.

3. Results

3.1. Environmental Sensitivity and Responsible Behaviour: A Fair Awareness of the Participants of What Sustainable Development Is and Its Challenges

The first results of this research make it possible to affirm that all participants have a high environmental awareness. They know the major challenges facing societies. For example, the environmental causes mostly cited by participants are waste management, global warming, deforestation and ocean pollution that has threatening consequences for animal species.
MAT: “Well, I would say especially global warming with the melting of the ice and the rise of the oceans, and after all the problems of deforestation, rather the impact of humans on the environment and waste management too.”
NAT: “Apart from global warming, ocean pollution. But after all that global warming entails, so all the consequences. (…) I am thinking above all of animals, the disappearance of species. The same goes for ocean pollution, et cetera. Otherwise ecology… Well, that’s all that comes to mind.”
Environmental concerns generate misunderstanding in everyone as well as very negative shared emotions and a very strong eco-anxiety [87]. Water reflects a touching symbolism for some participants, RIV indicating for example that water is a “source of life”. The emotions aroused by these themes are for some of the order of “sadness” and “anger”, as well as incomprehension in the face of the results of our human behaviors that degrade the quality of life of the species with which we cohabit.
PAL: “I would say there is already a little sadness anyway. And then there is also a lot of anger because the forest is still … it’s very-very-very important, and then that’s it.”
MAT: “I think it’s sad that we’re developing despite other species that are disappearing because of us.”
Participants are not fooled and are informed about polluting industries. Most of them evoked the impact of “fast fashion” on consumption and second-hand clothing represents an alternative to stand out. It is also interesting to highlight the awareness of certain ecological issues through the viewing of essentially animal or societal documentaries.
PAL: “Then I think it’s the documentaries I’ve seen that have had more impact on me as a result, and that made me realize that it’s happening now.”
NAT: “It’s just that I saw, I think, a report when I was young where you had a boat that hadn’t run aground but had been damaged. There was all the oil from the boat that had invaded the sea and I saw seagulls all struggling, finally it killed a whole ecosystem and it really hurt me.”
MAT: “Yeah, I had seen a video of a scientist who was going, but working in Greenland, I don’t know exactly where. And every year he actually filmed his expeditions and he made a compilation of his videos explaining how the glaciers melted, that it was reduced in thickness and width, et cetera, and that there were species also that he no longer saw but that he used to see before. And that yes, it made me … because I tell myself that there are very few people who go to these areas, apart from scientists, because there is no one who really lives. And yeah, that kind of opened my eyes a little bit like that.”
However, the level of environmental sensitivity and the expression of their emotions are different depending on the participants. For some, it is the result of adherence to social norms but for others, it results from education and family inheritance. A convincing example is the discourse of NAT as opposed to EOL or LUJ regarding the incentives for the adoption of environmentally responsible behaviors. If NAT adopts practices similar to the latter, it is more for the sake of convenience and social pressure, while EOL, for example, grew up in a family campaigning for ecology. Thus, Hypothesis H1 (“The adoption of environmentally responsible behaviors is based more on the extrinsic motivations than the intrinsic motivations of an individual.”) is validated.
EOL: “It’s true that I didn’t have an electroshock. I had a father who was sensitive to the environment very early on, who always voted for green parties at times when it was really not popular, now it’s more classic but in his time it was rarer. In short, there was no electroshock, just continuity.”
NAT: “Well sort your waste, recycle. But at the same time, I got into it because everyone else is doing it here. I arrived in flatshares where they did it, so I got into it like that, I didn’t get into it … I am no more invested than that in sustainable development or ecology.”
LUJ: “Well, especially education, but like my parents, so my entourage. I was thinking kind of thing at the time. In the 90s, you had even more a big movement at the level of Recy-Québec, there were a lot of advertisements, at different levels, but education went to a great level. Then with the relatives it is guaranteed that when you see your loved ones recycling, having a behavior like making compost without even the compost systems already existing, you have a little different relationship compared to others with the planet.”
This is also reflected by the choice of words to express their relationship to the environment. Thus, NAT states that environmental protection does not only imply an emotional charge related to the support of ecological causes but represents “just politeness and respect”. FAW specifies that the adoption of responsible behavior encompasses “non-selfish behaviors and practices” that go hand-in-hand with her vision of sustainable development as “thinking about collective well-being”.
Finally, most participants agree on the attribution of environmental responsibility both at the individual level and to that of local authorities, specifically regarding the treatment of waste as symbolized by PRI who indicates that this responsibility is “individual first because everyone produce their waste (…) and then collective to be able to put in place rules and a framework”. However, we would like to highlight the direction of the responses that seem to coincide with their personal definition of sustainable development.
PAL: “For me, sustainable development is something that is a part of the production cycle.”
ALE: “Sustainable development is about creating value. I would tell you, to develop a product or a service in which there is little impact on the environment, in the sense that sustainable development would be to be able to do something a little in eternity without being afraid to reach the bottom of resources.”
PAL: “In any case, the responsibility should not fall on the consumers, it’s on the decision-makers and the producers.”
ALE: “Oh well, it comes from companies, it definitely comes from companies.”
Two currents stand out. On the one hand, those who orient sustainable development towards a question of productivity, towards the responsibility of companies and institutions such as PAL or ALE. On the other hand, those who evoke a responsibility that remains collective but more attributed to a citizen and individual impulse such as RIV or FAW.
RIV: “For me, I would say it’s more of a way to say, on which it can be going in the long term actually. Demonstrate or uh work on causes so that it is not really the medium term or the short term but really sustainable, which will benefit future generations.”
RIV: “Well, citizens I would say because this Earth belongs to all of us, to all of us, so it’s more with us.”
FAW: “Well, it’s individual. I don’t know if I can talk about that but... It is in my conviction that no one can change a group if individuals have not begun to make this change themselves. If you, you and I, if we have not thought about this change or if we are not convinced that this change will do something, the group will be able to do nothing. We have to start with ourselves, so I may say, it’s individual, it’s an individual conviction.”

3.2. Video Game Experiences: An Experience of Life

Video games represent for many participants a way to live situations that are out of the ordinary, both in a “fanciful” environment and close to our physical reality and feeling immersed.
EOL: “I would say immersion, feeling … to be in the skin of the character, that it cuts with everyday life and that we are sucked by the game fully.”
CHL: “[Have you ever felt immersed in a game to the point where you no longer pay attention to the time and space around you?] Yes, really, especially actually it happened to me the first time I played The Sims because it was creating your character and having a life that, in the end, looks, finally like what I would like to have. So, yes, to the point that I had become almost aggressive, which was really not good because I was actually playing whole days without realizing the passage of time.”
MAT: “Being able to do things you can’t do in real life. I take game quests for example, apart from doing an afternoon treasure hunt and suddenly finding other people to play with you, it’s still more complicated to do outside. While there … there’s also the degree of fatigue where “it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I’m thirsty, I’m tired”, your head in front of your computer and you’re driving a character, but it’s not your body moving. It removes the constraints we will say. You’re at home, it’s convenient.”
It is interesting to observe that for some, playing a life simulation game allows them to live an ideal life and is a source of motivation in their real life as for CHL while playing The Sims, ARI or RIV. In fact, as they project themselves in the simulation which reflects certain realism through the game design and as they somehow empathize with the events lived (for instance one might duplicate themself, create an idealized version of themself without the avatar looking exactly like them or even live events they would like to experiment in real life), they feel immersed in the interactive plot [88,89] which validates the Hypothesis H2 (“Fictional immersion reduces social and temporal distance”) and H3 (“Sensory immersion reduces spatial and temporal distance”).
ARI: “I think that, since it’s approaching reality, you feel like it has a kind of form of personal fulfillment, even if it’s through a game because it’s more realistic. I think you also have the fact that you achieved something, even on something fictitious, and then on a given time, which is ephemeral. But yeah, maybe I’d say it can have an influence on the reality you’re experiencing.”
RIV: “(…) And playing it, I don’t know, it allows me to hold on in my real life and I’m like, “ok, I’ve been playing this game since 2007”, I play it, I don’t know, I feel like it allows me to keep in mind my goals in my real life. One day when, if I can do it with the game, maybe I will do it with my personal life.”

3.3. Playing Plasticity: Living an Apocalyptic Future Already Present in Our Lives

Two participants (MAT, PAL) indicated that they had finished Plasticity in “8 min” for PAL and “15 min” for MAT when they had played about 20 min, which reflects a form of immersion to the point of losing the notion of time.
The experience of the game Plasticity, although short, favored in some participants the feeling of negative emotions by describing the universe of the game and its atmosphere as “disturbing, shocking” (PRI), “sad” (MAT, PAL, EOL, FAW, CHL). One person was even “disgusted, enraged” (LUJ) by this environment littered with waste and we would like to add that this individual never plays video games and does not enjoy “immersing himself in a fantasy rather than having experiences in the real world”. Despite this feeling, some participants did not seem entirely affected by the adventure of the game, or even somewhat detached to the point of feeling more “spectator” (PAL, NAT) than actor of the game. Further, their words assume that this detachment is due to a lack of empathy coming from the habit of seeing waste outside and in the news.
PAL: “But overall, ah, I would tell you at the beginning, still indifference, because given the world a little, I said to myself “This world is screwed”, we’re not going to lie to each other.”
NAT: “Uh now, I don’t even know, I feel like it’s normal now because I feel like it’s disgusting everywhere. So it shocked me no more than that. Finally… in fact, it was less by the waste, there on the ground, I go good, “ok that’s okay”. But it’s more when there are animals stuck in stuff, there, I go “ah that’s ugly though.”
In terms of time markers, since the game does not indicate the year in which the adventure takes place unless they know the synopsis, several participants assumed that the game was taking place “now” or in a distant “future”. Nevertheless, we note that the temporality assumed by some players seems to have a link with their suggestion of the geographical area where they locate the adventure (Table 1).
It seems that the level of interest in video games influences an individual’s emotional investment. Thus, while some have indicated that they have “empathy” (EOL) and “feel close” to the protagonist to the point of using a personal pronoun such as “I” to designate their actions (MAT), a person similar to LUJ who sees no interest in video games or a person similar to PAL who felt more like an “active spectator” put more distance in their words by using the pronoun “he”.
Other participants evoked a notion of parallelism of the actions carried out in the game compared to real life, concerning the collection of waste, which validates the Hypothesis H4 (“Systemic immersion reduces the hypothetical distance”) and H5 (“The more the video game environment reflects realism for the player, the more the latter associates with it, which reduces their psychological distance.”). An example is LUJ who felt “disgusted by the fact that there was garbage everywhere” and tried to pick up the waste from the game when it was only possible to interact with a few elements.
LUJ: “Well, as soon as I understood that the character, stopped when he arrived on objects just within his perimeter, well, you had to press CTRL. I didn’t have much control over what the CTRL allowed me to do so from the start I was a little disgusted by the fact that there was garbage everywhere. So I saw that he leaned when you pressed on it so I started to do it naturally but I don’t know if that was the goal of the game. I just had fun doing that because honestly, I found it not right.”
ALE: “We were like forced to take certain actions... Not necessarily forced to but it was natural. It’s just that it was instinctive. It’s just that it was natural, I’m used to recycling also in life and then making compost and all that makes it like my second nature.”

3.4. Living Plasticity: The Usefulness of an Emotional (Gaming) Journey

An interesting phenomenon that we attribute to immersion saw some players noticing the presence of a smell related to their visual perception of waste and the sound environment.
FAW: “It stinks. It was disgusting. It made me not want to breathe. It’s like I’m being suffocated by something.”
CHL: “It’s really weird, because actually, like when there were the garbage cans, I almost felt like I could smell the garbage cans. Like, the fact that they are really all present with the noise, kind of… finally when you fall there, in a well, with the sound of flies and so on. Yeah, I almost felt like I was really immersed.”
EOL: “(…) The immersive side makes the sense of smell … it’s a bit far-fetched but immersion could bring by sight, maybe other things.”
Although the controllers are limited to the directional keys on the keyboard to move and the CTRL key to perform an action, we observed that the understanding of the use of the controls associated with the participants’ playing time seemed to be based on their video game skills, some finding them obvious or even simple to the point of associating them with a message of the game and others experiencing more difficulty.
CHL: “Afterwards, I thought it was a bit simplistic in the end, but maybe it’s meant to be because it’s a parallel to the fact that we can all contribute, it’s not that complicated to contribute to the improvement of the environment.”
LUJ: “Very unpleasant because I’m not something that interests me, that, that I’m really passionate about pressing keys. I don’t really like it so much as an experience, the user side.”
NAT: “Yeah, it has been. Easy to handle, well it’s not very complicated since there are only the movements and then the control key is quite simple so it’s okay.”
Similarly, the realization of the possibility to impact the game environment was not obvious to the participants, as none of them found the two game environments saved. Some saved at least an environment (MAT, PAL, ARI, EOL), but other participants found the places still polluted as adults, which is supposed to be a concern for attention to detail, also related to their gaming habits.
However, regarding the message retained by the players, all agreed on the fact that they ended the game on a positive note even though some found the “adult” world still polluted by waste. Indeed, most of them evoked the feeling of having performed actions to change things, or even for some to have a sense of accomplishment.
EOL: “Satisfaction of having contributed … It’s not real since we’re in the game, but it’s still satisfying to have contributed to the environment even if it’s within the game.”
All the players were able to understand the ecological causes addressed by Plasticity which seems to convey in their eyes a message of hope and possibility of action in the face of plastic waste management (Table 2). While most participants were already aware of this ecological challenge, some still indicated their “reinforced” vision (MAT), “fac[ed] the reality of things” (CHL) or even desire to “make a list and really learn about what can help saving the environment” (RIV). In addition, most participants indicated their intention to limit their waste production and use of plastic, for example by “consuming less things under plastic” (PAL) or shopping in “bulk” and “taking reusable containers” (ARI). These elements validate the H6 hypothesis (“The video game experience promotes players’ thinking and behavioral intentions”).
However, we retain that someone did not appreciate their experience and felt the technical limitations of the gameplay offered by Plasticity, especially regarding the lack of “control” which is a necessary component for the motivation of players as seen in the literature. Despite this, this player still showed an emotionality induced by the environment in which he evolved during his session.
LUJ: “[Describe to me the emotions you felt about the environmental issues in the game.] It’s something that enrages me and then disgusts me absolutely. It’s not something that makes me happy to see and then it’s not something that puts me in a most peaceful state of mind. I know very well that we are leaving our next generations with an absolutely polluted planet. So no, it’s not something that makes me feel good.”
Similarly, another participant who did not feel as affected compared to other players, indicated that he did not feel more concerned about the environmental cause.
NAT: “[Would you say that you see, that you perceive the urgency in the need to change our behaviors, or do you not see this urgency?] Yes, but the thing is that for me, I can do nothing about it so since I can do nothing about it worries me no more than that … well, the term that, I was going to say, “it pisses me off”, but I can do nothing about it. Or I can if I can, I can get involved with an association, move and so on. But since it’s not something that makes me vibrate, it’s not my passion.”
If Plasticity is considered as a “fun and educational” alternative by several participants, the age category that seems to have a potential for learning and practice would be oriented around young children and adolescents (7–18 years old), or even young adults and the elderly given the simplicity of the game and its short lifespan. The main suggestion of the participants is the use of “shock” (PAL, RIV),” the need to have “more pep, more adventure, more action” (MAT) in order to interest an “adult” audience that we would place between 20 and 40 years old. Similarly, “a more advanced narrative” (PAL) unlike the suggestive and almost contemplative scenario of Plasticity as well as a less “linear” structure (EOL) would favor the perceived control of the players and their “free will” (LUJ), improving their systemic immersion. Finally, virtual reality was also cited by one participant as a “more realistic, more concrete” (CHL) experience that can mark users and offer the necessary shock.
CHL: “I think in virtual reality, it could reach a slightly more adult audience. Then it would be more realistic, more concrete and that we would perhaps feel more concerned. Because I know that in virtual reality, they already did experiments with situations with migrants in particular, so I tell myself why not doing this experiment with a situation on the environment. And those who told me that they participated in the experiment with migrants, they told me that it was very engaging, then that it marked them and that it was impactful, so I think, for the environment, it could be the same thing.”
Thus, the results support all the research hypotheses but adjustments concerning the dimensions of psychological distance, in particular the influence of hypothetical distance in relation to fictional and sensory immersion, are addressed in the following theoretical reflection.

4. Discussion

Given the results of the study, it appears that certain dimensions of immersion according to Ermi [68] reduce the psychological distance perceived by players.
Fictional immersion, which depicts players’ emotional investment in the game universe, through its characters and narrative, reduces social and temporal distance. Indeed, some players felt empathy for the character they embodied to the point of feeling close to them and evoking emotions related to the perception of the universe in which they evolved. Some participants also perceived the adventure of the game taking place in our time by the presence of landscape elements in the game. The results of the research also show that fictional immersion reduces the hypothetical distance since some participants presented a parallel between the game universe and existing situations in certain regions of the globe.
Sensory immersion refers to the game environment and the perception of stimuli associated with the gameplay, interactivity, interface and spatiality of the game [67]. The study highlights that it reduces the spatial and temporal distance, but we cannot suggest a simultaneous reduction of these two dimensions. Indeed, although some set the adventure of Plasticity in Western countries, the associated temporality was a post-apocalyptic scenario in a distant future. Thus, the imagined geographical area changes according to the time horizon: the closer the adventure seems to be in time, the more distant the associated region is. These elements support the results of previous experiments [25,49]. It is possible to justify this by the upstream knowledge of the participants who thought of environments that they had seen in documentaries focused on poor regions of the globe and plagued by the logistical consequences of ecological disasters.
In addition, the observed spatial observation also appears to correspond to a defense mechanism as emphasized in the literature and suggested by one participant, according to which the temporally and geographically distant perception of a disturbing situation would reduce the effect on individuals and therefore, their emotional investment. The results of this research also highlight a parallel between the creation of this defense mechanism as a resolution of a cognitive dissonance phenomenon [90]. Sensory immersion could also reduce the hypothetical distance. Indeed, the olfactory association perceived by the players in relation to the visual and auditory stimuli they experienced would bring the virtual experience closer to physical reality since the environment in which the interviews took place had a neutral smell.
Despite Plasticity’s technical limitations (see “Appendix A”), the results highlight that systemic immersion reduces hypothetical distance. We recall that systemic immersion is the feeling of control and mental stimulation caused by the challenges of a game. Thus, this phenomenon is based on the characteristics of video games related to the gameplay and interactivity of the game, the peculiarities of the players and the proposed interface [66]. One person said that they saw the simplicity of the game’s challenges as a bridge to the simplicity of adopting environmentally responsible practice. Others noted an effect that would relate to the theory of emotional contagion from the point of view of Haag [91] that would explain the assimilation and reproduction of movements perceived in a virtual environment but whose realism makes it feasible in real life, justifying the reduction of the hypothetical distance.
Finally, from the point of view of environmental awareness through the game, the behavioral intentions formulated by the players correspond to the themes addressed by the game. In this case, Plasticity focuses on plastic pollution as well as the consequences on the human body and other animal species (terrestrial such as dogs or marine such as seabirds, whales, seals, fish) of its ingestion. Thus, although the participants are already aware of the ecological issues to be faced, some are ready to improve their knowledges or even continue to modify their consumption habits (elimination of plastic packaging, volunteering, alternatives to plastic containers, etc.). The cohesion between behavioral intentions, necessary and available resources and the practice of certain responsible behaviors also corresponds to the theory of reasoned action and its extension, the theory of planned behavior [92].

5. Conclusions

The results of the study offer a broader research perspective on the existing relationship between the video game experience and the reduction of psychological distance in the context of environmental awareness, and in this case, on plastic pollution. This research presents several theoretical contributions and managerial reflections.
First, the deepening of the game cycle [75] seems relevant and highlights the validity of our theoretical modeling. Our study is among the first to explore and find positive results for all dimensions of psychological distance. The existence of a relationship between perceived psychological distance and video game immersion represents a novelty in the literature that should be further explored to decipher and understand players’ attitudes towards a virtual experience. This relationship would also imply the existence of a blurred boundary between the reality perceived by an individual and their physical or virtual environment. Finally, an individual’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for the environment seem to compensate for a player’s lack of immersion, and emotional investment in an environmental cause is not necessarily related to environmental awareness, which should be further explored.
The end of our interviews allowed us to discuss proposals related to the targeting of an ecological video game and the characteristics that promote awareness, or at least strengthen the ecological interest of the target audience in order to improve their responsible behavior. Youth seems to be a prime target for a game such as Plasticity, which has features that promote their entertainment while maintaining learning potential. Thus, according to the participants, the characteristics to be considered in an educational game for young people are based on interactivity and playability as well as interface and spatiality. The educational game should have an average lifespan so that a child would finish their adventure without spending too much time in front of a screen. The controls should be easy to understand, and the complexity of the proposed challenges would gradually evolve in accordance with a child’s abilities to allow them to maintain a state of “flow”.
An adult target would also value narrativity and characters. Thus, beyond complicating the challenges offered in a game, the construction of the narrative should be sufficiently developed, and the player should be able to associate with the character they embody. The game universe should also allow the player to feel free, in control, and not limited by a linearity that would impact their feeling of the adventure. Finally, the participants evoked the notion of shock, and it is possible to bring this notion closer to the theory of habit discontinuity, according to which an event that interrupts the daily life of an individual can lead to a behavioral modification. All these elements would nevertheless require more research on each of the target categories to better predict the attractive characteristics necessary for an immersive educational game focused on ecology. The presence of a reward system is an incentive to motivate players and it is true that Plasticity does not offer explicit rewards other than the satisfaction of acting for the environment. We also assume that depending on the phenomenon of emotional contagion and the identification of the players with the character they embody, that the proposal of a protagonist located in the same age group as the target audience could further reduce social distance. In order to target adult profiles in search of experience, virtual reality might appear as a solution. The technical promises offered by this medium could strengthen the immersion of players on all its dimensions and significantly reduce the perceived psychological distance by living an emotionally rich experience thanks to the build of the game.
Then, another great contribution of this exploratory work is to be among the first to propose the study of plastic pollution via the test of an educational game on this theme, further specifying the category of video game beyond “serious games”, and to propose a link with the concept of psychological distance. This research also presents many contributions for institutions as well as for the population who must understand the long-term challenges of waste management and the risks incurred if its production continues. On the one hand, it is becoming necessary to develop sustainable technologies capable of recovering and treating plastic waste without risking further impacts to the environment and human health. On the other hand, complementary economic and social policies should be put in place to limit the consumption of plastic to what is strictly necessary [93], in which the improvement of awareness campaigns conveying information in a fun and immersive way is suggested to reduce the distance taken on the subject. More studies focusing on the perception of plastic pollution in relation to psychological distance would be relevant.
However, this study is not without its limitations. Although the semantic saturation is reached, it would be interesting to enlarge the sample to brush the profiles that would be relevant to target via the use of a video game in their awareness. Most participants displayed environmental sensitivity, but exploring their motivations suggests that it would be relevant to consider this study of individuals with little interest and knowledges in environmental causes. In addition, it would be appropriate to conduct a longitudinal study to verify the application of behavioral intentions formulated by participants, which would further confirm the usefulness of video games in their behavioral modification. It would also ensure cohesion between the intentions formulated and the behaviors carried out. Additionally, the lack of literature on the perception of plastic pollution implies the use of data from research on climate change, although a link is supposed between these two phenomena.
Finally, regarding future research, the continuation of experiments and empirical work might support the emerging relationships assumed at the end of this work. The favorable results of this study make it possible to consider the deepening of these themes via the study of virtual reality. It represents a recent and rich field of research, plagued by technological innovations and immersive potential relevant in the simulation of a realistic and emotionally intense environment, breaking with the daily lives of its users.

Author Contributions

V.-L.B.E.: Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Writing (original draft), Writing (review and editing). E.R.: Supervision, Validation, Writing (review and editing). All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee (CERPE—Comité d’Ethique de la Recherche pour les Projets Etudiants) of the University of Québec At Montréal (UQAM) (certificate number:2022-4296; obtained:2022-01-11) for studies involving humans.

Informed Consent Statement

This project received the ethic consent from the CERPE (Comité d’Ethique de la Recherche pour les Projets Etudiants). After the explanation of the project with a guide the authors gave to the participants, they were given the choice to give their consent vocally or by signing a consent form.


The authors wish to thank their relatives and pairs for their emotional support and helpful advice through this project.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A. Description of the Characteristics of Plasticity

The game is divided into two phases where the player embodies the heroine as a child and as a young adult, although her age and name are never specified. Her personality is undeveloped, she is silent, and the only depth that the player sees are her sadness on her mother’s grave and her adult leap of joy once Avalon Island is saved. It is not possible to change her physical characteristics and the heroine’s avatar is visualized in the third person, which can promote a sense of empathy as much as distancing because of a lack of identification.
Plasticity presents itself in a sense as an experience as active as it is contemplative. The main character evolves in a universe that can be divided into three worlds. The first corresponds to the garbage dump to the cemetery near the heroine’s former house. The second corresponds to a dilapidated and polluted city on the water. Finally, the last world corresponds to Avalon Island, the ancient corner of paradise where the heroine’s late mother lived.
The gameplay of Plasticity is based on a unidirectional corridor (linearity) punctuated by challenges with progressive difficulty. The controls require the use of the keyboard: the directional arrows allow you to move and the CTRL key allows you to perform any action other than moving (take a crate, move nets, pick up cans, etc.). The simplicity of the controllers, contrary to the haptic similarities that a controller would offer, might represent a brake in the feeling of the players, added to the linearity that can limit the feeling of autonomy. The graphical interface is transparent, with the exception of text strips that represent the heroine’s words/thoughts at certain moments during the adventure, which would promote the sensory and fictional immersion of the players.
The world of the game is consistent with the message it wants to convey. The music seems to reflect both a certain melancholy and a freshness of hope, depending on the key moments of the game (cinematics). Sound effects are markers of interaction promoting sensory immersion by their realistic approach (the heroines’ steps, flies around garbage cans, box movement, water flow, song of seagulls, etc.). The environment is rich although it is possible to interact with few elements, and the predominant colors coincide with the state in which a world is found.
Figure A1. Title screen.
Figure A1. Title screen.
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Indeed, the gameplay phase in adulthood sees the heroine leaving Avalon Island and returning to the two previous worlds. The success of the game’s challenges in these two worlds as a child has an impact on their saving ability as an adult which results in the discovery of green worlds with blue skies and clean water. On the contrary, their failure results in the discovery of worlds graying and darkened by air pollution, as well as a new accumulation of waste. The text strips of the heroine’s speech are subject to a double interpretation: on the one hand, they inform the player about the universe of the game, and on the other hand, they indicate an implicit trick for each challenge to be carried out. Highlighted elements (red box, light) serve as affordance markers for the player who knows what elements he can interact with. However, the lack of feedback, except from a subtle musical sound that does not indicate if the player passed the challenge and only act as a way to know that the player finished the challenge, might disorient the player who would not be able to understand their progress.
Figure A2. Parallelism between the “apocalyptic” worlds and the “saved” worlds adult routes.
Figure A2. Parallelism between the “apocalyptic” worlds and the “saved” worlds adult routes.
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The graphical interface does not present an ending screen indicating the success of the game or its failure, which therefore seems to remain at the interpretation of the players. However, it is still possible for the player to start their adventure again to see if they are able to restore both worlds.
Figure A3. Different landscapes, different ways to play.
Figure A3. Different landscapes, different ways to play.
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Figure 1. Theoretical modelling of research adapted by the concept of the game cycle [75].
Figure 1. Theoretical modelling of research adapted by the concept of the game cycle [75].
Sustainability 14 05774 g001
Table 1. Non-exhaustive and comparative table showing the temporality attributed to the game and its supposed location.
Table 1. Non-exhaustive and comparative table showing the temporality attributed to the game and its supposed location.
Participant.Temporality of the GameGame Localization
PAL“That’s why I’m talking about geographical areas. Because that’s it, it’s finally already happening right now. Right now, it’s happening so I could very well place it today in 2022 actually.“There are places in Senegal or there are places like that in the Philippines, that’s all that. I had just seen a passage, a lady in the Philippines. Her house is almost underwater, she doesn’t want to leave her house. Well, that’s what, then, but here, I would say maybe Philippines. ”
MAT“I would have put the 2010s.”I would have said more a country like Brazil, okay, it very quickly made me think a little about the favelas. The house, especially with the sheet metal and right next to the big open-air dumps. ”
CHLIt could almost be now in some countries unfortunately, but with whales running aground all this, there are still elements that make a little more futuristic but I would not say a future so far away either. 2070, I don’t know, something like that. ”I would say a country in Asia. Yeah, because there’s a lot, well for me, Asia, it’s like India, very-very poor countries, very polluted with Vietnam, with like a very heavy atmosphere of pollution in the air where you can breathe more. You see nothing, et cetera. ”
LUJ“This is a dystopia that must be very close, 2029, even now, even in some countries. Currently, there are slums where can currently live like this, so even in 80 it could be in the 70s in several third world countries.“But in the West, if you’re asking me, in the West to have this kind of dystopia like that, I tell you that it can very well be in the 2030s, 2025 or so.”
PRI“It can happen in the next 10 to 20 years.”“It’s true, I didn’t pay attention to the architecture which was quite Western anyway from what I could see. (...) I would say Western, a Western country or city.
Table 2. Similar responses from participants regarding Plasticity’s message.
Table 2. Similar responses from participants regarding Plasticity’s message.
ParticipantThe Message of the Game
PAL“The message for me from this game is that we can all have an influence on the environment. That it is up to everyone to take care of the environment in which we live. So that’s the message I take away from the game. ”
MAT“You enjoy playing and at the same time it makes you aware of certain things. So necessarily, watch the news, watch the documentaries, but there, playing a game well you ally the useful to the pleasant. So you play, you enjoy yourself at the same time, learning interesting things to help the planet. ”
CHL“Well, the message of this game is to try no matter what you do to help preserve the environment. And despite the fact that finally, he repeats it several times in his text, it is that despite the fact that everything seems difficult and unattainable and that everything seems already lost in advance, you can still manage to move forward and solve some problems. ”
FAW“Well, if you’re looking for a better life, you have to start where you are. We will rectify what was done wrong, try to find solutions, but not look for alternatives. ”
RIV“Let’s save the planet as long as there is time to do it and everything because I don’t know who would like to see their mother die because of waste, who would like to see animals disappear because of waste. Let’s take action, whether it’s individual first, or let’s not look at what others are doing and everything. Because yeah, I think from now on, I’m actually going to think about doing a lot of things that I wasn’t doing before. I just have to find the motivation to do it. ”
PRI“It’s a good awareness game.”
ALE“It’s important to recycle … no, but more than that, it’s that you know that small actions matter. ”
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Bekoum Essokolo, V.-L.; Robinot, E. «Let’s Go Deep into the Game to Save Our Planet!» How an Immersive and Educational Video Game Reduces Psychological Distance and Raises Awareness. Sustainability 2022, 14, 5774.

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Bekoum Essokolo V-L, Robinot E. «Let’s Go Deep into the Game to Save Our Planet!» How an Immersive and Educational Video Game Reduces Psychological Distance and Raises Awareness. Sustainability. 2022; 14(10):5774.

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Bekoum Essokolo, Vicky-Lauren, and Elisabeth Robinot. 2022. "«Let’s Go Deep into the Game to Save Our Planet!» How an Immersive and Educational Video Game Reduces Psychological Distance and Raises Awareness" Sustainability 14, no. 10: 5774.

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