Our examiner, Jo Robertson, first checked Harmony Square 2 years ago.
You choose a persona and make decisions on how best to subvert the community. As you post on social media you steadily work to cause conflict and arguments. You play on the side of people using media to scare and control, but the goal of the game is to expose the tactics and manipulation techniques that are used to mislead people, build up a following, or exploit societal tensions for political purposes.
As you use various techniques to cause divisions they get a first hand understanding of how to spot manipulation techniques in social media posts. The game responds to you choices through the headline ticker and number of likes you have accumulated.
This game was created as part of a study with results published in the journal Harvard Misinformation Review. The research behind the game suggests that this reduces their willingness to share manipulative content with people in their network. Over the course of 4 levels, players learn about 5 manipulation techniques commonly used in the spread of political media content: trolling, using emotional language, polarizing audiences, spreading conspiracy theories, and artificially amplifying the reach of their content through bots and fake likes.
Harmony Square was written with an audience in mind of ages 15 and up. The game contains minor references to mild forms of violence (including rude language on a fictional social media network, although no swear words are used), but doesn’t feature content that is likely to be perceived as graphically shocking. While the game does contain some references to real-world events, its scenarios are entirely fictional. Effort has been made to make the game as inclusive as possible, and it can be enjoyed by players from all backgrounds.
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