A game design approach to communicate the power of group influence on adults.
under pressure game

Under Pressure is a persuasive boardgame which highlights the dynamics of group influence. The project aim is to provide tools to recognize when these mechanisms are applied and raise awareness on the issue. The purpose is to reflect on the power of the group to change the individual, without the latter realizing it and how in adulthood we tend to underestimate this powerful influence. There isn’t a definitive judgment on the positive or negative value of the group influence, to show both aspects.

To be able to show the dynamics without making them obvious, I have chosen to use a final disclosure of the theme so that players can reflect on the actions. I’ve done a study on the design approach to better communicate the message, choosing -among others- the Embedded Design Method (Kaufman, Flanagan & Seidman, 2015). Before the end of the playtime nothing clue the players on the persuasive aim of the game. This allows to create a final moment of reflection and debate in light of spontaneous behaviours emerged during playtime.

The players live the group dynamics of social influence hidden in the game’s mechanics thanks to the story. They become adventurers who infiltrate groups belonging to a recently discovered planet. Players’ aim is to sell more material by earning as much money as possible, represented by Victory Points. These points are linked to the reputation of the player. To achieve this they must be able to defend themselves from the attacks of the other players.

This project was born after an analysis on this topic from a psychological and design point of view.

game design
smaller cards game

The project was tested first to attest the ability to create an interesting experience for the player, then to measure the ability to convey the message.

Master Degree Thesis for Politecnico di Milano
Professor: Maresa Bertolo
TA: Ilaria Mariani