Play A Video Game Today, Create A Better World For Tomorrow?

By Desdemona Bandini

The world news is bleak as always. Tune in and hear of yet another unforeseen looming crisis that will take humanity to the brink of all things safe and secure and chuck us over the edge to our eventual demise. The weight of all the wrongs can feel heavy and overwhelming at times. All over the world there are people who need relief from the worry, an outlet to express their feelings, a non-threatening pretend place to get lost in, a community to be embedded with – and they are finding it in video games.

In video games, there are always opportunities to be a hero, to compete for glory, to strategize and overcome obstacles for the WIN! In video games, skills can be learned and acquired by all regardless of race, social status or background – the lines are blurred. Surrounding video games are massive online communities of passionate savvy individuals that come to the same portal to form and share a collective experience with each other. The game forms the connections and still allows room for autonomy. These gaming communities often police themselves. It is up to the individual how they want to play, if they want to pay, how involved they want to be and with what group. With only an internet connection, players worldwide can connect instantly and play in real time without barriers. In video games, living in the game is life and life is fun!

Yes, the world’s problems are complex, but out of that complexity an alliance is forming between gamers and game-makers. Together they are collaborating to find a way to empower each other, doing what they love to do (play and make video games); to educate and solve all of the problems of the real world, and of course save humanity from impending doom.

— Wait, what?

That’s right. Save the world from impending doom by playing video games and find solutions to the world’s problems.

Games for Change or G4C is the new movement in gaming that is quickly gaining a following and providing a catalyst to create video games for social change.  Jane McGonigal, a game designer and TED speaker has helped galvanize the movement through her game World Without Oil which “…invited people worldwide to contribute “collective imagination” to confront a real-world issue: the risk our thirst for oil poses to our economy, climate and quality of life.” Players played like it was real, because it could be. The results were enlightening and frightening.

Hard to believe how playing a game can better the world? Decide for yourself. Here are a few game examples from the G4C site:


Against All Odds


Description
Against All Odds is about the global refugee experience from the time people are forced to leave their countries of origin to the beginning of their new life abroad. A series of short challenges illustrates the complexity and danger of the refugee experience.

Developer
UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency

Social Issue Channels
Human Rights
Global Conflict

Play Game
http://www.playagainstallodds.com/


Budget Ball


Description
Budgetball is a physical outdoor, sports-like game designed to increase awareness of the national debt and promote fiscal responsibility by rewarding strategic thinking and problem solving through a unique game design and rule set. Played year round by college students, the winning team of the season gets to play a championship match with local policy makers in the heart of Washington, DC.

Developer
PETLab

Social Issue Channels
Economics
News
Politics

Play Game
http://www.budgetball.org/


Do I Have a Right?


Description
Do I Have a Right? explores the Bill of Rights in the context of operating and growing a Constitutional law firm from obscure to distinguished status. Hire lawyers with special talents and areas of expertise and assign them to distraught clients with legal quandaries of varying validity. Wield the Bill of Rights like a high power microscope, examine a variety of fun and quirky legal cases, and ultimately become a prestigious purveyor of expert legal advice.

Developer
Filament Games

Social Issue Channels
Human Rights
Politics

Play Game
http://www.filamentgames.com/node/84


Participatory Chinatown


Description
Participatory Chinatown seeks to pair gaming with the traditional town-hall meeting. Donning virtual avatars, residents explore Chinatown in someone else’s shoes to complete virtual quests that highlight planning issues and encourage collaboration and discussion. The game combines virtual interaction, physical deliberation, and Web-based input to foster extended community participation.

Developer
Muzzy Lane

Social Issue Channels
Public Policy
Environment
Politics
Other

Play Game
http://www.participatorychinatown.org


Re-Mission
Description
Re-Mission is a video game that gives young people with cancer a sense of power and control over their disease. It’s a fun, effective tool that improves treatment adherence, cancer knowledge and self-efficacy.

Developer
Realtime Associates, Inc.

Social Issue Channels
Other

Play Game
http://www.re-mission.net

By Desdemona Bandini

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