Long Live Fun

Video games aren’t just for nerds, they can be great tools to train, build awareness and inspire social change.

Games have long been used to teach complex topics in a rewarding way. Kids reared in the 90’s might fondly recall days in the classroom playing Oregon Trail designed to teach students the realities of nineteenth century life. Anyone who spent class time playing that game won’t forget the hardships on the road to the West. Dysentery, broken axels, and rattle snake bikes still haunt us into our adulthood. It’s a great example of the way games can make learning both fun and addictive.

Just as Oregon Trail challenged the notion that you can’t play video games in school, workplace gamification rebels against the idea that we should have fun “on our own time.” Video game designers can help businesses build platforms that allow us to get the job done in a new interactive way. Companies like UPS and Hilton are using games to train employees and studies have shown that trainees are more likely to retain and apply the information gained from this new format.

In her inspiring Ted talk Jane McGonigal shared her vision “to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games.” One of her more recent creations, Urgent Evoke challenged students to learn about social entrepreneurship, get involved in the community, and create and share ideas for new innovations that could benefit public good.

A new game, Survive125 teaches participants about poverty and the tough choices millions of people must make every day. In the game users are forced to make choices such as whether or not to stay at home with a sick child and miss a day’s wages or whether to pull their daughter out of school to make money in a factory.

These games not only make involvement in social change fun and rewarding but can raise awareness about the complexities of social issues.  Games can be a great way to train agents of change, build awareness, or get a new group of users involved in your mission.

How could you use gaming to inspire social change?

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