The limits and strengths of using digital games as “Empathy Machines”

Matthew Farber, Ed. D.,
University of Northern Colarado

Karen Schrier, Ed.D.,
Marist College



This working paper grapples with questions related to the intersection of digital games and
empathy. Many people are playing games—but are they also engaged in empathy-related skills such
as perspective-taking, communication, reflection, relationship-building, and choice-making as part
of their game playing? Are games “empathy machines” that support greater insight into our human
condition? In this paper, we seek to (1) identify strengths and weaknesses of games in relation to
empathy, (2) consider how player agency, transportation, perspective-taking, communication, and
other factors may affect the practice of empathy, and (3) develop initial questions, guidelines, and
recommendations for creating policies and programs around using games to inspire empathy.


Download: The limits and strengths of using digital games as Empathy Machines

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