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Role Playing (Games) Games

Can a Video Game Solve Hunger, Disease and Poverty? 72

destinyland writes "Dr. Jane McGonigal of the RAND Corporation's Institute for the Future has created a game described as 'a crash course in changing the world.' Developed for the World Bank's 'capacity development' branch, EVOKE has already gathered more than 10,000 potential solutions from participants, including executives from Procter & Gamble and Kraft. '[Dr. McGonigal] takes threats to human existence — global food shortage, fuel wars, pandemic, refugee crisis, and upended democracy — and asks the gaming public to collaborate on how to avoid these all too possible futures.' And by completing its 10 missions, you too can become a World Bank Institute certified EVOKE social innovator. (The game designer's web site lays out her ambitious philosophy. 'Reality is broken,' but 'game designers can fix it.')"
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Can a Video Game Solve Hunger, Disease and Poverty?

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  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@nosPAM.hackish.org> on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @02:50AM (#31758504)

    I sort of research in this area (only sorta, but enough to keep up and know about half the people in it). So I can't help but throw out some additional resources, which you can interpret as "stuff I like".

    FWIW, the general idea is usually referred to as "serious games" [wikipedia.org], with a bunch of terms like "persuasive games", "games for change", "games with a purpose", "political games", "news games", etc. having more specific meanings.

    I personally rather like Ian Bogost's [bogost.com] book [amazon.com] on the subject, which, contrary to a lot of stuff in this space, is more measured in talking about both the possible benefits and likely pitfalls. Although I love the idea and think it has a lot of promise, I've got to admit most attempts to make "serious" or "political" or "world-changing" games fall flat. Anyone played McCain's 2004 campaign game, "John Kerry Tax Invaders"? It's exactly what you think it is: a space-invaders clone with John Kerry tax bills coming down at you, in place of aliens. Hilarious, but kind of stupid. So I think it's important to not be fan-boyish about it, and figure out what would make the medium actually flourish for these sorts of purposes. (FWIW, Bogost also has a former blog [bogost.com] on "games with an agenda", and a interesting Colbert appearance [colbertnation.com]).

    An interesting precursor is Chris Crawford's [wikipedia.org] 1980s games, which tackled subjects like the Cold War and the environment in interesting ways. He's now giving away a .txt of a book [erasmatazz.com] describing the design behind Balance of Power (1986), still something of a high-water mark in combining the simulation genre with attempts to really make people think about the real world.

    For more recent games, specifically in response to news events, some of which have activist content and some of which are just commentary, there's also a newsgame index [gatech.edu]. In addition, there's a recent paper [digra.org] discussing whether and how newsgames might become the 21st century's equivalent of political cartoons.

  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @03:27AM (#31758634) Homepage
    I do not understand why these non-gamers or casual gamers think about changing the games all the time. I am an hardcore gamer and I will buy the product. Go save the real world not our fantastic world.

    Non-gamer - I've seen the TED talk she did, and she is most definitely a gamer of the 'hardcore' variety. Was actually quite funny to feel her relief when she realised some of the audience were gamers too and were getting some of the references she was making.

  • by zoeblade ( 600058 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @05:51AM (#31759096) Homepage

    Here's her TED Talk [ted.com] on the subject.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.