Saturday, May 19, 2007

Social Impact Games

I have always been more of a visual learner, preferring to learn through films and pictures as it helps in my personal retention of the information instead of just reading a text book or journal article. Because I prefer to utilize such modes of education, I was particularly interested in what these social impact games would have to offer and what they could possible teach me. Some of the games I thought were very interesting and had the potential to be very informative and helpful in communicating important ideas. On the other hand, there were some games that I did not understand how they could be classified as a social impact game, like for example the Self Esteem Game from McGill University that supposedly just by clicking the pop up words as fast as we could, we as a player were making positive associations and thereby creating a high personal self esteem level. To be honest I didn't feel any better about myself after that game, but just like I had wasted my time...

The other games that I chose to play were the health and wellness game called Ben's Game, The political game Third World Farmer, and the Education and Learning game Tropical America.

Ben's Game

I was attracted to this game at first because of the story behind its creation. Created because of the wish made by 9 year old Ben Duskin, who is currently in remission from leukemia, to the Make a Wish Foundation to create a game for kids like him to provide a way fight back against the cancer and to relieve the stress and pain caused from the treatment. In this game, the player acts as a hero is trying to fight against the mutated cells. To stay healthy you have health from the hospital, ammo from the pharmacy, and attitude from home all which can be diminished and kill you because of the cancer cells and electrical barriers. As you fight the cancer cells you can collect tools and shields that aid in your battle. While this game was pretty basic as you just zip around the cells, I did find it pretty entertaining like a some of the video games I have at home, and could see how this game not only teaches players about the effects of cancer, but provides an escape for younger children who are afflicted by cancer.

Tropical America
This game was created the history of South America and its struggles against the Spanish. Created by Los Angeles based teachers, artists, writers, and high school students, this bilingual and thematic history game works by having players navigate through different scenes of history and make decisions about what they want to do. Through the course of this game, the player comes in contact with characters who will ask questions about different historical aspects and the player is supposed to answer. Done in plain black and white, and the characters move slowly from location to location, I personally found this game very boring. While it was a bore, I will say it did offer some interesting facts and insight as to what took place in history during this time. For example, after I was captured, I was led to a torture room where I was forced to pick my torture, which ranged from burning, stretching, beating , and asphyxiation. I guess this is game provides a way to learn about these historic events, but it just moved to slow.

Third World Farmer
This game was by far the most education in my opinion. As an African farmer this game aims to present the reality behind the challenges that these Africans face on a daily basis. During the game, I was a farmer who was struggling to keep my family alive despite the poverty and conflict imposed by African society. Civil War, disease, and droughts were constant issues that made the struggle to survive even more difficult. I thought this game was the most interesting and important because it demonstrated the endless cycle of devastation that is occurring in Africa today and that were hear about all the time, but don't quite understand the magnitude of the problem because we are at such a far distance from the problem. Through this game, players are able to get a deeper look into devastation that is actually some one else's reality,

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