Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Social Changes Driven By Games

It is possible. A medium designed for rapid and mass consumption could easily spread a message to help others.
The problem that I have with a lot of these “games” is that they lack an audience or a means of driving people to their game. Who would willingly go to MTV.com to play a game about the issues in Darfur? No one. It might capture a few people’s attentions, but most are going to MTV for music and entertainment, not social activism. In fact, just viewing the website right now, there’s nothing on the page that would draw me to think “this company really cares about the issues!”
Now that’s not a slam at MTV. They’re one of the few companies in the U.S. that actually gives a crap about social issues. They have segments every now and then, and their Rock the Vote campaign to get more of the youth of America involved in their country. That’s great. But when it comes to something like the Darfur issues, it’s not an issue that you can easily jazz up like voting. People are literally being killed and maimed. Not so much of that going on in elections.
It’s difficult to capture what really happens in a game. Not to mention, it might turn people off from wanting to help if they can’t make it past the first stage/level/area if things are too realistic.
And then the other issue. These games may affect us, but what about the people that are suffering or the people causing the suffering? The latter, more than likely, thinks we’re wrong. The latter, also, typically has more power and could find ways to use our good and turn it into something bad, like channeling funds to their “cause”. Sad and twisted, but humanity isn’t known for being morally kind all the time. People stole from the 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina charities, and vice-versa people attempting to steal from those that were affected.
What I’m getting at is just because WE think this is wrong, it doesn’t mean the other parties involved are going to change. There needs to be a better means of reaching out to people that are involved. Our money and time donated may help a few people, but it doesn’t stop the opposing side from continuing their cause. Video games might be a means of penetrating into the other side. Sounds like warfare, but it’s not. Games have an odd way of transcending into multiple cultures unlike any other medium. If even one soldier in Darfur played this game, that might make a difference.
But no one in Darfur is going to MTV.com. I don’t know of anyone in my generation that would go there willingly. Better marketing and global access to social video games would help.
Just a thought.

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