Transactive Learning & Transformational Play

When player action significantly impacts the game world in ways that are visible and persistent, it can boost emotional engagement and sense of self-efficacy.


In an RPG game, players can be tasked with working with other players and NPCs to decommission an oil pipeline running through Indigenous lands. After the pipeline has been removed, players may experience the environment visibly improving: water and plant life may return with more vibrant colors, and characters they have created emotional connections with can discuss how their quality of life has improved. 


  • Transactive engagement encourages perceived self-efficacy and can contextualize extremely complicated situations for players.
  • When designed with legitimate connection to real-world issues, transactive designs can empower significant knowledge and skill gains, along with the potential for hope that solutions are possible.


  • When using this tactic, players must be given real and relevant consequences to in-game actions taken. The player must be able to act with intentionality (player’s learning-related actions are related to primary game goals), legitimacy (content of the game must reflect real-world realities), and consequentiality (in-game actions visibly affect the game world.)
  • In order for deep learning or attitude change to take place, the actions which change the narrative should be directly and deeply  tied to the learning / attitudinal goals of the developer. Transactive games are designed using Intrinsically Integrated mechanics (target learning is critical to gameplay mechanics). See Intrinsic Integration for more.

From the Environmental Game Design Playbook
– by IGDA Climate SIG