Gamifying bioethics

Research in bioethics largely relies on interviews and surveys, which engage participants with scenarios that are distal in time and place to an actual situation. However, context and embodiment are relevant to moral decision-making. Due to the potential to immerse participants in a simulated environment, purpose-built games and scenarios might prove valuable as empirical tools. As a case study of gamifying bioethics, we describe the co-design and implementation of “What Lies Ahead?”, a digital role-play scenario for research with adolescents. “What Lies Ahead?” engages young people with ethical issues related to predictive technologies in psychiatry. As preliminary evidence of the validity of this gamified approach, we report qualitative results suggesting that the role-play was immersive, and elicited authentic responses and reflective thinking in adolescent participants. Even though application of game-play mechanics is rare in bioethics, we find digital role-play to be a powerful tool that collects data through real-time, realistic scenarios.