Just posted online: a talk I gave earlier this year at New School Univeristy about games for change, on a panel with Asi Burak (designer of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict game Peacemaker) and David Martz from Muzzy Lane software. You can see the entire video here, but if you’re short on time, you can skip ahead to my bit that starts at Chapter 7 – just click on the dashboard underneath the main video window. After that is Q&A with the audience.
My presentation focused on different design strategies that games can take relative to social issues. I use examples from my own work to look at games that simulate their subject matter, games that embody emerging forms of literacy through their play, and games that seek to subvert a larger social context through play.
Too often, a “game for change” means a game that didactically delivers a political message to its players, or at best, a game that seeks to simulate its subject matter in a straightforward way. Although changing society through games is not my main modus operandi, for designers that want to do so, there are other ways forward. I’d love to see more designers wrestling with the sociocultural context of their game, employing a rigorous theory of change by which they think their game will have a social impact, and also letting their game be a game by trusting play itself as an agent of change.
Watch the video for details.