Designing Games to Effect Social Change
Serious games, persuasive games, news games – these are all terms used for games which let players gain an experiential understanding of real world issues through play. Many in this growing class of games deal with social causes; recent examples include Peacemaker, about solving Middle East peace, The Redistricting Game, about congressional redistricting and redistricting reform, and the online game series published by the New York Times that includes Food Import Folly (which is about the FDA limited inspection policy on U.S. food imports). The field has a number of good examples that let users learn about social issues, however, to date, the field is short on examples of games that achieve measurable results in the real world. This paper addresses issues of design, theory, and activism pertaining to games about social causes. The author is an experienced designer and scholar who deals with all three of these issues in his work.