Developing Effective Serious Games to Improve Cross-Cultural Competence

An, Brian, Systems Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
An, Brian, Engineering Graduate-eng, University of Virginia

The recent globalization of modern businesses and the increased number of coalition-based military operations has necessitated that businessmen and soldiers alike be able to effectively communicate and interact with people of various backgrounds and cultures. Despite this recognized need and significant monetary investment, proven training and assessment methods for cross cultural competence (3C) continue to be lacking. The evolution of digital game-based learning systems introduces a new medium in which scalable training systems can be developed. This dissertation introduces and investigates novel frameworks and methodologies by which 3C games can be developed and players' performance can be assessed.

Although the contributions of this dissertation are specifically focused on serious games as they relate to 3C, the applications of these methods can be applied to various digital game-based learning systems (DGBL). The contributions of this dissertation can be organized into two categories 1) Procedural/Engineering contributions and 2) Scientific/Technical Discovery contributions.

Regarding the Procedural/Engineering contributions, this dissertation presents a novel taxonomy of 3C game research to identify gaps in current efforts and motivate the research presented in this dissertation. Additionally, this dissertation introduces the Cultural Dimension-Based Simulation Design Process. This process incorporates existing models of cultural differentiation to develop culturally-relevant dialogue systems for socially interactive DGBLs. The Cultural Dimension-Based Simulation Design Process is demonstrated in the development of the Chinese Cultural Dimension Training System(CCDTS), a game set in a Chinese University. The CCDTS was used in an experiment to determine whether the Cultural Dimension-Based Simulation Design Process was effective in improving 3C.

For the Scientific/Technical Discovery contributions, the author of this dissertation evaluates a novel eye-tracking based measure of performance(ETMP) for socially interactive DGBLs. This method involves the examination of player fixation duration on user inputs to evaluate the mental schema of the player's game selections. Additionally, the author of this dissertation evaluates the efficacy of the use of Head-Mounted Device (HMD) Virtual Reality (VR) compared to a traditional screen-based DGBLs for training cultural competency.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Virtual Reality, Cross-Cultural Competence, Serious Games
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