11-09-07 - 2

Ignacio pointed me to this game September 12 at Newsgaming. Go play it now then we can talk about it ...




Ok, so you see it's a little moral game with a message that you discover for yourself. It's pretty obvious what it's going to be right from the beginning. I don't really think that this game "works" in the sense that it doesn't actually teach anyone anything, and it will never convince anyone to change their mind on the topic. That is, people come into the game having a preset idea on the topic, and the game just reinforces that. People sympathetic to the message will go "oh yeah" while people who don't agree will think "this is stupid, it's not like this". Of course the movies of Micheal Moore et.al. are pretty much in the same boat or even worse.

I was thinking about what it would take to make a game that could actually change someone's mind. It's something I've always wanted to do and something I often think of. People are so pig headed, they have some retarded idea, and they can manage to see every bit of news in a way that just supports their preconception, and all the news that doesn't reinforce their preconception they either just ignore or claim is lies. With games, in theory you can put them in the actual position of the thing they misunderstand, and make them actually make a decision, and perhaps they will see the logic of the decision that they disagree with.

One of the key factors to successfully teaching someone in this way is that you have to let them discover the connection to the real world issue themselves. If you show that this is a game about terrorism, or a game about global warming, or whatever - you've already lost. As soon as they see that issue, their head fills with their preconceived ideas, they presume that your game has some certain message, and they're not going to convinced by anything they see. They begin judging the game based on how it fits their preconceptions - either they approve or they think you're full of it - they no longer judge the scenario on its merits.

Instead, you have to present them with a purely logical or immersive situation in which they are making a decision based on either rational thought / logic (eg. if I do move X I get more reward than move Y) or their immersed emotions (eg. I need to save my character's family). That is, they're judging it as a fresh situation seperate from their memories and their political identity.

Once you achieve that, hopefully they can make the connection back to the real world issue. This is a tricky part, because if you're too obvious about it, then they will see the hand in the machine and know they've been set up and reject the lesson, but if you're too subtle they won't see it.

Of course, getting to children is much easier.

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