Designing Serious Games: Leveraging Procedural Rhetoric for Effective Game Design

As someone who actively explores the intersection between generative AI, education, and productivity, this subject brings together elements of design and argumentation in a unique way. In this blog post, I will dive into the nuances of procedural rhetoric and illustrate how it is integrated into the serious game I am currently developing.

What is Procedural Rhetoric?

Procedural rhetoric is an extension of traditional models of rhetoric. Unlike verbal rhetoric, which employs words to influence, and visual rhetoric, which uses images, procedural rhetoric focuses on processes. It aims to either change opinion or stimulate action (as seen in classical rhetoric) or effectively convey complex ideas (as in its contemporary version).

Procedural rhetoric makes use of rules of behavior and dynamic models that are programmed through code. Through this, it offers perspectives or arguments about both material systems—such as how a machine operates—and conceptual systems—like how consumer capitalism is represented in video games.

Relevance in My Game Design

In the game I am working on, procedural rhetoric plays an essential role. The game allows users to engage in conversations with an AI agent. The rules for engagement with this AI agent are well-defined, establishing clear procedures for interaction.

Encouraging Exploration Through Additional Scenarios

However, it is not just about linear conversations. I inject additional scenarios and comments from a virtual moderator to guide or divert the dialogues in specific directions. These elements enrich the user experience and challenge them to think more in line with the design of the game, which is to encourage players to build deeper connections.

The Hidden Blocker Mechanism

One intriguing feature is a hidden blocker that controls the progression of the conversation. This blocker analyzes the user’s text and interactions, gating the future scenarios accordingly. If the user’s engagement aligns with the intended learning objectives, the conversation continues; otherwise, it halts, encouraging the player to try again in the game.

By combining these elements, I aim to use procedural rhetoric to craft a persuasive and informative experience. The additional scenarios and comments provide layers of complexity, while the hidden blocker serves as a guide, ensuring that players engage with the game in the manner it is designed to be played.


Procedural rhetoric is not just an academic concept; it is a powerful tool for game designers, especially those working in the educational technology space. By understanding and employing procedural rhetoric effectively, we can create serious games that are not only engaging but also deeply informative. In my current project, procedural rhetoric serves as the backbone for a meaningful dialogue between the player and the AI agent, making the gaming experience both enjoyable and educational.

Photo of a split-screen image: The left side showcases an ancient Greek lecture hall. A philosopher resembling Aristotle stands on a podium, symbolizing classical rhetoric. Students surround him, holding tablets and scrolls, captivated by his words. The right side transitions into a modern computer science lab. A designer sits at a dual-monitor computer, coding. The screen showcases lines of code and a flowchart representing game mechanics. Above the computer, graphical elements float, such as a chat bubble, a game controller, and a dialogue tree, signifying various aspects of the game. A thin line or series of connecting dots merges the two halves, indicating the evolution from classical to procedural rhetoric. This line culminates in the center with an icon of a brain, symbolizing the educational impact of procedural rhetoric.

Citations for ChatGPT disclosure: Assistance in ideation, understanding of source material, and writing refinement provided by ChatGPT, a machine learning model by OpenAI.


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