Empowering consumers to repair: The utility and acceptability of a serious game to examine decision-making behaviour regarding home appliances in Ireland
Emma Delemere, Paul Liston
Energy and Social Science
School of Psychology

As efforts to empower consumers to repair home appliances increase, analysis of the behavioural biases driving premature replacement is needed. Serious games, such as the EVIDENT serious game, provide a promising means to explore these biases and aid consumer energy decision making. However, for serious games to be effective, they must be acceptable and usable, and accurately reflect real-world contexts. 

As such, this DCU led study seeks to 1) identify the real-world factors impacting decisions to repair or replace home appliances; and 2) explore the usability and acceptability of the EVIDENT serious game as a means to examine energy decision making. Six interactive workshops were conducted (n = 44) consisting of focus group discussions, questionnaires, and co-located game play. 

Positive feedback on the use of serious games to explore residential repair or replace decision making was noted. While initial challenges with usability and acceptability of the serious game were identified, significant increases in both arose following iterative incorporation of workshop feedback. Key themes arising from focus group discussions on repair/replace decision making included what does it mean, invisible impacts, shifting cultural values and trust. These findings highlight the uniquely challenging nature of energy decision making, and the resulting need for multi-level interventions to increase repair, with the interconnecting role of individuals, businesses, communities, and policy clearly noted.. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of user inclusion across the energy serious game design and piloting process to support both utility and broader social and ecological validity.