Any chance as a Game Theorist & Gameful Designer? [TL;DR]

Dear MGSA-Community,

first of all, I have great memories from being at your meetups in 2015. It was a very welcoming and joyful atmosphere and I remember them very fondly.

My name is Jonas Wolterstorff and I studied Sustainable Development and European Studies. In my Master Thesis, I developed a framework for Persuasive, Pervasive games, comparable to Serious Games, with the purpose to inspire individuals to do certain things in their life that makes them happy.

I am now trying to make the game envisioned in the Thesis a reality and would like to come back to South Africa to do so. As even the most ambitious Social Entrepreneurs have to eat, I am also trying to find a job in the field. Unfortunately it seems that an academic perspective to games is not really high in demand within the community. I know that Dany/@dislekcia has had a similar approach, but given that he is also a fantastic developer, it is more sorted for him.

The question is then whether you can imagine a company that is interested in hiring a behavioural science, system thinking and motivational psychology expert to inform their game designs and/or envision systems that bring about intended consequences in their audience. I know that certain agencies within this communities develop Serious Games, e.g. Clockwork Acorn as far as I know, but I am uncertain as to what type of scientific personnel they are looking for.

I would be very thankful to get some insight as to how doomed to fail my endeavour is to establish myself as a "Games For Change"-guy in South Africa as a German. ;) Find my CV here.

Best regards from Göttingen,

Ps: Yes, I have seen @dammit's post about job search, but it seems that it mostly applies to Game Designers and - Developers. So I hope I am not one of the FAQ-Noobs. ;)


  • @bloodmandarin Hey! I think most game designers have an interest/soft spot for persuasive/social impact games, so it's cool to have you around :).

    There's quite a bit of that stuff going on in SA - I think you're probably going to have to make your own space/job though. There isn't anyone looking for active positions like that.

    Apart from whom you've mentioned,I'd also check out:

    - Seamonster
    - Formula D Interactive
    - Afroes
    - Trainiancs (sometimes do some board game stuff on top of their visualisations)

    You could also go the academic angle perhaps? Wits has a game design programme - perhaps you could do lecturing/research? Wits has students do a serious game as part of their 3rd year game design course.

    There's also the Serious Games Institute at North West university.
  • Thanks @Bensonance for that wonderful answer. I was aware of Seamonster and Formula D, but did not know about Afroes and Trainiacs. I will check them out.

    Regarding the lecturing, I do not know whether they would actively looking for that or whether I would have to find new gigs, freelancer-style, every three weeks.

    In any case, what you allude to sounds both exciting and as if I come at the right time, and yet devastating, because I will not be able to get a visa for longer than three months without a contract.
    Do you know of anyone who was working at a company of that kind while starting a PhD? I would love to study at the Bertha Institute for Social Innovation at UCT, because I see a huge potential for games to be impactful and function as facilitators for social innovation, e.g. Open Streets Cape Town.
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