Monday, May 21, 2007

week 7

I first started exploring the social impact games without much luck. it seemed like whatever game i clicked on, the link would either be broken, or the game wouldn’t exist anymore, or something else would hinder my efforts. my first experiences with the social impact web site was not very positive. some examples of games like this included the “interactive nights out” game (what? i have to buy this?) and the media blackout game. the descriptions and reviews of both games made me really want to try to play them—and not being able to was really annoying.

anyway, i finally found a site that i seemed to be able to play. the self esteem games were actually really fun. for the grow your chi game, you had to click on the clouds that had smiles or your name in them, and avoid clicking on the clouds that had others’ names or people frowning. it was really fun—there was always this one lady who i could never remember to not click on. i got used to looking for teeth and clicking—it was basically fail-proof except for that lady who was frowning, but still showing her teeth. as i got further on in the game, there were more and more clouds, and they moved quicker. it actually was rather hard to move the mouse fast enough to click on them. instead of promoting self-esteem and growing your chi and achieving enlightenment, at the end it was promoting stress! but all in all, it was a cute game.

in the same site, i played the eye spy game. this had the same idea—click on the smiling face. only this time, they would give you a box with about 8 frowning faces in it, and 1 smiling face. this was much trickier since all of the faces changed every time and everyone moved around. eventually, though, it got easier to spot the smiling face. at the end, they showed you how your time improved through all four rounds. the old man was the hardest to find—he wasn’t really smiling, so my “look for the teeth” technique couldn’t be used on him.

then i moved on to a more educational game. i played the chemistry elemental game. it was kind of like tetris, but you had to match element from the same type (metal, non-metal, transition). once you got 3 in a row, they would disappear. again, this was really fun until things started moving faster. and it seems like sometimes the blocks would just drop down from the top without even giving me a chance to see them.

from there, i played the public policy game plan your future park. this game was probably my favorite. in the beginning, i loved how they gave you options for where to put your park, and all of these grungy places are already taken! so, i went through, clicking on the options that i thought the game wanted me to click on, but then i realized that this isn’t the kind of game where you end up with an A+ park—you can’t always choose the right answer, and there always won’t be an “all of the above” choice. so, then i started choosing the options that i wanted to see in my park, and no choice was ever the best. you either alienate the senior citizens and the teenagers by putting in a playground, or you get taxi drivers and motorists angry by not putting a road through the park. i think that this game was the best for highlighting how you can be playing a game and learning something new at the same time. i came into this not expecting to learn anything new, but through this “serious” game, i definitely did.

then i played some games that others in the class recommended. i REALLY enjoyed the super shag land game—i told my roommate about it and she started playing, too. and i also tried to get into the anti-bush game that had been recommended, but i found it hard to pay attention. the music was just a little too hardcore for my delicate ears, and it was too wordy from the beginning. i mean, what’s the point of sitting there, on a computer, clicking away, when i could have just read about all of that in a newspaper, without a soundtrack?

if i created a social impact game, it would probably be something along the lines of the plan your future park game. my friend reed has cancer, and he’s had to make multiple hard decisions this year. just like planning a park has risks and consequences, my game would, too. it would follow the life of reed—from deciding to go to the doctor after the pain in his hip has made it hard for him to walk, to making a decision regarding his hospital, to figuring out ways to raise awareness of his cancer (ewing’s sarcoma—it’s kind of rare, especially for males his age), to deciding to leave college, to putting off college for a second year…his decisions and actions over this past year have been huge and life-altering. additionally, the consequences from those decisions have also been huge and life-altering. one could ask why he put off school for another year—what does he hope to accomplish? will he ever go back to school? does he need to? right now, he’s in the midst of organizing a group that raises awareness for his cancer—what good would school do for him right now? also, his relationship with his girlfriend has suffered. reed, in his path to recovery, saw fit to remove himself from any kind of negativity or stress, but his girlfriend leads a stressful life. and part of her way of dealing with that stress was talking to reed about it. now that he “doesn’t want to hear it,” she feels restricted: she wants to tell reed that things are suffering in their relationship because of this, but how can she if he refuses to listen? a “serious game” about cancer and the decisions that one has to make when facing it would be appreciated.

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