Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Social Impact Gaming

I just played the 3rd World Farmer game. It's pretty dark. It is meant to simulate the experiences and hardships a 3rd world farmer endures. You have to buy crops, livestock, tools, a home and amenities every turn. You push the arrow button, and then a season passes, at which time a news-feed appears, telling you what happened that season to set you back (it always always sets you back). I experienced a drought, famine, disease, fire, revolts, military training, parasites, everything. It sucked! Apparently there's no way to win the game; you, your family and your farm inevitably die. I guess the game is good in that it informs the player about all the terrible hardships a 3rd world farmer in Africa endures, but I didn't get much else out of the "game." It wasn't fun or engaging, but rather depressing...

My social impact game, relating to my final hypertext project idea, deals with inequalities in health care. The game is pretty dark (again). The object is to create a character with the "correct" circumstances to attain health care and health insurance, five different ways. You must choose different combinations of class/income, race, religion, and base-line health. If you don't choose the right combinations in a certain amount of time (the time before you develop a serious disease and need health care), you die.
A "correct" combination could be: middle-class, Irish, Catholic, pre-disposition to high cholesterol.
Another "correct" combination could be: no income (therefore can apply for Medicaid), Cambodian, Buddhist, no known health problems.
You must be careful about putting certain combinations together, such as "no income" together with "pre-disposition for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease," as you may just not get health care coverage.
The game would also include an appeals system, in which you could argue your case to an insurance company in order to try to gain health insurance for you and your family. But again, you need to be quick, as time is ticking!!
The point of this satirical game is to raise awareness about inequality in health care and health coverage due to social, racial and economic factors.

1 comment:

MHofsommer said...

I think the idea of social impact games in general is quite unique. Even though people are making the argument that sometimes the actual game overshadows the bigger issue which is trying to be pushed, I still think that playing one of these games is more productive than spending hours on something else like grand theft auto. At least the issues are still being introduced.

My idea for a social impact game is in the same field as the one that you played with the farmers however the point of my game would be attempting to live in America while working on minimum wage. Working, raising a family, paying rent and other bills while just trying to have enough left over for food would be quite the challenge. Like your idea for the health care game there could be variables which could impact the outcome such as race, geography, gender, and age. I would be interested to see how many people would be able to win this....