On Sunday there was a NY Times article on a new breed of video games — those that immerse people into reality complete with politics and consequences, rather than the typical fantasy worlds of dragons, aliens, and car chases. Game developers are viewing games as a chance to educate as well as to affect change, offering players the opportunity to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, distribute food and medical supplies to an area in crisis, or protect their camps from militants in Darfur.
One of the most interesting aspects of these games is that the consequences of each player’s actions are played out so they can see what would happen if they make one decision over another. For example, in the game Peacemaker, players get to see what happens if they choose a missile strike or a diplomatic approach to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Which choice would ease security fears the most? Which might lead to further violence? Here are some examples of other games in this new generation:
- A Force More Powerful — Players learn how to defeat dictators, military occupiers, and corrupt rulers with a non-military strategy and nonviolent weapons.
- Darfur is Dying — Players choose a Darfurian representative of their camp to build shelter, collect food, or forage for water while avoiding gun-carrying militants.
- Food-Force — Players engage in missions to deliver food and medical supplies to an area in crisis.
Since the link to the NY Times article may not be active for much longer, here is the citation in case you’d like to find it at your local library: Thompson, Clive. Saving the World, One Video Game at a Time. The New York Times July 23 2006, Arts & Leisure section.