Games for global change (livestream blogging from #g4c2011)

It’s day 2 of Games for Change 2011 (aka #g4c2011) which is livestreaming its Mainstage Panels.

This (hasty) posting is on the “Games For Change Around the World: Global Inspiration and Interpretations” panel.

Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen, CEO, Serious Games Interactive, described three major trends in the design/development of social impact games.

  • It’s not enough to create awareness games; need to have real impact (e.g., change behavior,  raise funds)
  • “Gamification” term is sticky and attracting needed attention. Even if you disagree with the approach, it’s bringing together diverse groups who might not have heard much about, or thought about, serious games.
  • Marketing needs to be considered and the impact of multiple distribution channels since different types of technology are being used (tablets, TV, mobile, PCs, etc)

The speaker noted that Nordic schools don’t grade students for first couple of years and emphasis is on learning by play. He commented that there’s great potential in looking to other countries to tap their experiences in developing games.

Examples of games being developed by Serrious Games Interactives

Gilson Schwartz, Director, Games for Change Latin America, spoke next and said that  economic development in Latin America is changing rapidly. Democratization of telecommunications is progressing but access to education remains a challenge. Low literacy means a need to focus on audiovisual media in games. Popular culture is “culture of the poor” and this creates opportunity to do good and provide educational games. When describing different game platforms, Schwartz stated that mobile games offer an opportunity not just to be mobile in space but in society.

Suzanna Samstag, Chapter Leader, Games for Change Korea, noted that gaming is an important part of Korean culture but games about social issues are tricky. Social issues in one country are not necessarily the same in different countries (For example, games about the environment and immigration, popular in Western cultures, don’t “translate.”)

Samstag spoke of bringing the “iCivics” game to  South Korea in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice (represented in this session by Mr. Kim Hee Kwan). The game focuses on the issues that a family may have. Because the members of a family represent different age groups they have very different experiences with the law. Different games (levels of the game??) are targeted to different age groups. The game(s) are set in the context of a theme park, “Adventures in Law Land,” and the objective of the game is to create awareness in players of their roles as citizens.

The “Green  Grim” game is a game that addresses tension on the border between North and South Korea. The purpose of the game is to raise awareness of methods of approaching conflict. The game is designed to help players see the consequences of dealing with conflicts in peaceful or violent ways. The project will be launched this summer.

Samstag acknowledged challenges and potential culture clashes in:

  • Identifying the origins of a problem
  • Focusing on process versus product
  • Resolving whether learning should be fun
  • Designing for interactions or information transfer
  • Should appropriate technology or high technology be used
  • People don’t always budget for evaluation as part of the development process
  • Computer literacy may be high but communication literacy may be a lot lower (can use games to increase other types of literacy)

Comments during the discussion

  • In Latin America, access to the internet is still problematic and far from universal—absence of familiarity creates resistance to social impact games
  • In South Korea, older teachers resist games and “feel threatened”; seminars are used to get teachers on board. Involving Korean moms is a strategy being explored.

I’m posting links to slide decks as people are kindly sharing them and as I come across them on:  Games: Serious and Social.

 

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