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s-m-r

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2nd July, 2009 at 19:46:56 -

I've been wondering recently (once again) about the possibility that video games can be used to support social, economic, or political efforts. For example, there are lots of video games that have some aspect of current events or hot-button topics connected to them. The game producers often want you to support a particular cause. For example:

--first person shooters like America's Army, A Night of Bush Hunting, or Johnny Look's "Edge the Game"
--The scads of Flash games that support or ridicule particular political candidates (too many to list, but you can look up "election 2004 flash game" for some distinct examples)
--The old skool NES games like "Wally Bear & The No Gang"
--Anti-drug campaign games like NARC
--games like "Third World Farmer" or "Super Energy Apocalypse" that address global economic & societal issues

Admittedly, I have a distinctive 80's - 90's bias to the games I listed above, but that's because it's the generation of games to which I have the most exposure. The point is still the same.

Do these do their job well at all? That is, do they draw attention to these issues, and inspire people to change their behaviour? Are there any success stories? Should game designers bother to try to do this at all? Should designers be forbidden from attempting to influence public opinion of social issues with their works?

Do you feel video games can be persuasive enough to change public opinion on any issues? Why or why not?

 
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Matt Boothman

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2nd July, 2009 at 19:52:40 -

No, I don't think games alone are a solid medium for changing public opinion of anything but themselves.

But then again, I don't think there's been many examples of any fictional media changing public opinion in any significant way. I don't know of any fictional TV programmes or films that have changed public opinion, and it would be the same with games. And games, such is the requirement, have to be fictional to be playable.

 
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MrPineapple

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2nd July, 2009 at 20:08:18 -

"Wally Bear & The No Gang" HAHA! that game was terrible

sorry i'm an AVGN fan

 
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2nd July, 2009 at 23:59:39 -

I think they can highlight issues but only serve as a platform to discuss the issue. Have games resolved anything or changed public opinion in the past?

 
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Matt Boothman

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3rd July, 2009 at 00:03:48 -

I what cases do they highlight issues? The only time I've seen them highlight issues is inadvertently, as with Manhunt and GTA (both negatively might I add),

 
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3rd July, 2009 at 00:24:08 -

Heh, GTA was in mind when I thought of that. But it's not always negative. Wasn't GTA or something like that responsible for the reform of age ratings in Europe? I really should pay more attention.

 
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3rd July, 2009 at 02:55:56 -

This game highlights an issue with Australia's detention centres for illegal immigrants:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_From_Woomera

Although I have never played it I do remember it generating a large amount of media support when it was in development.

So I agree that games may be able to highlight prpblems in society but I don't think they'll be able to change anything by themselves. However it all depends on the issue, the game and the people involved.


edit:
What you are talking about is often referred to as "Serious Games":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_game

Edited by an Administrator

 
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3rd July, 2009 at 03:14:26 -

It's possible. Though game designers haven't really bothered. Or some have bothered too much with it that it no longer becomes a game. It's a lot harder with games, though. You have to get the player immersed in the situation, where they can understand what it's like for whatever event they're against.

With a book it's easier to get into someone's head. With a movie, it's easy to continually show what's behind the scenes and narrate. A good game needs the player to be active.. and understand it all on their own. It's not impossible, but it's a lot more work with less impact.

 
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MBK



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3rd July, 2009 at 04:32:08 -

I'd like a good game that could show the president just how much a HUGE MISTAKE it is to bail out large FAILING corporations.

It's best to let them run the course. If large companies die out, that just means there's more opportunities for smaller companies to take their place, as it should be. Instead of wasting the taxpayers money by putting it into large company CEO's pockets (that's where it always ends up), the government really needs to invest money back into the people who actually make the economy work in the first place. Those people that make it work are the masses, the many, the working class. If the government was geared towards economical success and freedom and a truly capitalistic society rather than the neverending socialistic insanity that is the corporate world, then all that money which went to the greedy and unsuccessful manipulative monsters, could have instead gone towards small businesses, government funding (grants and loans), and into the pockets of the needy and deserving. When those that never had money suddenly find themselves with it, there would be alot more consumer spending, and thusly alot better economy. When small business finds it easier to turn a profit, prices stop getting raised, and more people purchase items. And with funding for school, people can learn without worry of putting food upon the table, and so will gain the knowledge and skills to become a perfectly capable and useful member of society, allowing for better employability and less cost for companies looking for employees. It all travels round in circles, everything, and the sooner they realise this, the faster the economy will recover.

If they never realise however, then we very well could eventually wind up as a third world country in a rather pitiful state of disillusionment and poverty that will echo in waves around the world. It could indeed happen, and it's a scary thought. I'd prefer to keep it a fictional passing thought by changing the way we look at things and breaking the barriers of the arogant ignorant mindset which ignores the signs of the inevitable falling apart of society bound to occur if we stay on the current path.

Yea ... good luck making a game out of that though ... lol.


 
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3rd July, 2009 at 06:34:42 -

Ron Paul, the Game!

 
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MushroomVIP MemberARGH Sign
3rd July, 2009 at 07:26:47 -

I don't think that large-scale games are ever really designed with social or political change in mind, definitely with similar issues to the world or predicted future issues but because it makes for interesting stories and games. Sometimes people want to fight for good in a game, sometimes people want to play the baddies. It's fun to be a counter-terrorist and bust the terrorists, but it's also fun to play the drug dealer peddling drugs to people and running from the police. But as mentioned by OP, there's buttloads of Flash games people make that satirize politics and world issues.

 
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