Recently, there has been a lot of attention focused on the notion of “Serious Games.” I could not be more pleased, as this is an area of great interest to me, and one I intend to explore much more of in the coming years.
I am excited at the notion that gaming can have a powerful impact on society, by tapping into social networking, educating players to important issue, and perhaps motivating them to take action in the real world. This idea has been gaining in popularity, but I think the break-out game is nowhere in sight! The game that will truly change the world for the better on a global scale! It’s possible!
A bit of background…
My experience with Superdudes has had a lasting impact on me. Back in 2002, I had the privilege of collaborating with some amazing people who took their role as “real-life-superheroes” to heart. Together we created a social network gaming portal, which had a higher-purpose — to change the world! Superdudes had modest success, with over 1 million sign-ups in just under two years. The site was acquired by Intermix Networks and than later by Fox Interactive as part of the MySpace deal. Today, the site is still active with loyal members despite no updates to it since 2005. The magic that site produced is undeniable, and will live on in one form or another.
Fast forward to today…
The Serious Games Initiative is focused on uses for games in exploring management and leadership challenges facing the public sector. Part of its overall charter is to help forge productive links between the electronic game industry and projects involving the use of games in education, training, health, and public policy. This is a good thing!
There are also companies like Persuasive Games who are focused on games for persuasion, instruction, and activism. The hope to influence players to “…take action through gameplay” and understand that “games communicate differently than other media; they not only deliver messages, but also simulate experiences. While often thought to be just a leisure activity, games can also become rhetorical tools.”
Games like World Without Oil and Darfur is Dying are early success stories on what is certain to become a growing trend in Social Activist Gaming.
I’ll be tracking and repoting on these types of projects in the future.
It’s time to get serious about having fun!