Improving interdisciplinary collaboration

Strong collaboration between experts in human, public, and veterinary health care is crucial in combating infectious diseases in humans and animals. At the same time, an outbreak – such as avian flu – presents numerous conflicting interests across these different sectors.

Can persuasive technology help enhance this much-needed interdisciplinary collaboration? This was one of the key research questions within the project ‘eZoon’ from the Centre for eHealth and Wellbeing Research at the University of Twente. Within the framework of this international consortium, 8D Games was included as an advisory and technical development partner.

The challenge

Game design should facilitate understanding of complex decision-making.
Ensure GDPR-compliant gameplay data for both players and researchers.
Create an engaging experience with no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices
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eZoon - interdisciplinary collaboration?

Can a game improve interdisciplinary collaboration?

Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. During an outbreak, swift action is required. Simultaneously, there are many interests and considerations at play. What may be a good decision for health care can easily trigger public or political outrage.

Researchers at the University of Twente started off the project by identifying and analyzing all the actors involved in an outbreak of zoonoses. A total of 36 different ‘roles’ and stakeholders were mapped out, highlighting the immense complexity of the issue. The key actors were then interviewed to gain insight into their perspectives and dilemmas.

This is what we did

One of the conclusions from the researchers’ problem analysis was that professionals in human, public, and veterinary health care need to become more aware of each other’s perspectives and the importance of mutual cooperation. This is where the serious game emerged as a potential solution. Based on the theoretical foundation and the desired game concept suggested by the researchers, 8D Games set to work on the game design, artwork, and programming. We also advised on GDPR regulations and the ethical collection and visualization of gameplay data.

In the game, players are presented with a hands-on case: there is an outbreak of avian flu, and difficult decisions are on the table. What would you do at this stage of the outbreak, based on your expertise? And what happens to your opinion if you also ask another actor for advice? Throughout the game, players gain insight into the difficult choices all actors must make at different stages of a zoonosis outbreak. To truly give these perspectives a face, we designed various characters representing different sectors or stakeholders, from farmer to politician, in a detailed illustration style that matches the preferences of the target audience.

Character design eZoon

“Games kunnen dankzij hun ‘fun’ factor een heel mooi middel zijn om dan laagdrempelig de dialoog te starten en op die manier toch multidisciplinaire samenwerking te stimuleren. Als die games dan ook nog online gespeeld kunnen worden, worden ook nog de eventuele logistieke en organisationele barrières geslecht. Voor ons project was dat de perfecte combinatie.”

Dr. Nienke Beerlage-de Jong

Assistent Professor


In the serious game eZoon, there is no completely ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – let alone a winner. That would be too simplistic for a game about complex decision-making with many dependencies and nuances. The focus of the serious game is not on testing knowledge or protocols but on actively thinking about and weighing the dilemmas involved in crisis management around a zoonosis. Professionals thus gain more insight into the motivations of colleagues from other disciplines. By playing, they see the full scope of decision-making. The conclusion of the game helps solidify this knowledge. Users receive a visual representation of their results, showing which interests they are most inclined to prioritize.

This kind of framework and awareness interventions are essential for improving interdisciplinary collaboration in complex decision-making. Moreover, gameplay sessions with professionals provide plenty of opportunities for further knowledge acquisition and research. This includes not only studying the effectiveness of the game but also gaining more insight into the perspectives of end-users on the issues at hand. For instance, by facilitating or observing a gameplay session as a researcher. In this sense, the serious game is not only a result of research but also a tool for new research.

ezoon serious game wicked problems, 8D Games

The serious game eZoon contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 3 of Good Health and Wellbeing by providing professionals with a platform to learn about complex decision-making, gain insight into the motivations of colleagues from other disciplines, and promote collaboration. By playing the game, users can see which interests they are naturally inclined to prioritize. This can lead to better decision-making and ultimately better health outcomes.

Are you working on a research proposal that involves gaming? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Call 058 843 57 57

Mail johan@8d-games.nl

Johan likes to think along!

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