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How to design a game that effects social change

Over at Opposable Thumbs, David Chartier writes,

Nonprofit organization Games for Change (G4C) is continuing its march to save the world through gaming. Aided by some vicarious funding from the AMD Foundation, G4C today launched a new toolkit designed as a crash course to help non-profit organizations learn how to create “social issue digital games.”

The Games for Change Toolkit is primarily a Flash-based presentation containing video, reference material, and links to demonstration games that cover various aspects of game design, from the initial concept to production and distribution. While an actual SDK may not be involved, the toolkit introduces nonprofit organizations to both the broad potential and finer details of bringing an issue-conscious game into reality.

According to Chartier, the design primer’s video resources are culled from footage from the 2008 symposium “Let the Games Begin: A 101 Workshop on Making Social Issue Games,” here reorganized into a logical hierarchy for the G4C site.


I guess I thought the G4C Toolkit would be kind of a bore*, but I ended up hunting around the flash site for a long time: this kind of game design philosophy absolutely overlaps with the broader genre of edutainment. One of the best moments, I think, is during Karen Sideman’s presentation, when—paraphrasing James Paul Gee—she asserts that games don’t necessarily ‘make’ learning fun. In fact, it’s just the opposite: games are fun because we are learning.

*More social issues games ought to be as addictive as PETA’s Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals.

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