SXSW: Can Games Change The World?

The Escapist writes:
"South by Southwest can sometimes be a platform for activists. This isn't unusual with documentary filmmakers or advocates of online freedoms. Even musicians can be outspoken. But game developers who care about baby seals?

Still, this year saw a panel discussion on Games for Change, named after the New York City-based non-profit that thinks a videogame can teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

Suzanne Seggerman, who heads the organization, offers this definition of the kind of title G4C promotes: "a game which engages a contemporary social issue to foster a more just, equitable, and tolerant social model." While the organization is largely funded by the MacArthur Foundation, they have also forged a partnership with AMD and even have a lab at The New School.

Seggerman shuffles through several slides, giving actual examples. PeaceMaker lets you play as either the Palestinian President, or the Israeli Prime Minister. The ReDistricting Game explores the very complex issue of gerrymandering.

Seggerman makes some core assumptions. That culturally, games are meaningful and evolving. Educationally speaking, "we are convinced games are great for engaging people on a civic level." The only problem, it seems, is measuring the impact.

Eric Zimmerman, from GameLab, says he's an advocate for games being more innovate, taking on new territory and finding other markets. "Nothing wrong with that. But I think there are a lot of problems and challenges with the ways that people approach games for change."

The way Zimmerman sees it, most designers of games for change are very interested in a particular outcome. But, he says, "Games are not best as carriers for information. Games can carry a lot of information. But what games have uniquely is play."

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