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And then there are games that empower the player to change the world, as well as change themselves, during the act of play. This is the radical edge of political gaming, and there are too few examples. But it is possible, and this is the direction that the Occupation of all Game Worlds must take if these games are to add energy and resources to the 99% movement rather than letting people think they can do their protest from home, all by themselves.
Free rice

http://freerice.com/

Consider http://freerice.com/. The website, run by the United Nations World Food Programme, invites players to do a simple vocabulary quiz, but as one plays, points convert to real rice being donated to places around the world that need it. The game, then is neither "fact based" (it does not teach about hunger), nor even a "procedural rhetoric" (it does not imitate and teach the process of distributing food. For these, see the incredibly problematic "Missionary Game"). It is like a dance-a-thon. Sponsors have agreed to donate a fixed amount for every successful move, allowing players to change things by playing.

But better still is possible. Consider also, fold.it. The program "Folding At Home," out of Stanford, had allowed players to donate the idle cycles of their PCs and PS3s to solve complex problems of protein folding. This one was not much different than various other projects that had used a distributed network of computers idling to look for extra-terrestrial life, map the milky way, or any number of nice things. It was pretty, but it was not a game. Fold It added the ability for players to add their own creativity to the algorithmic search for protein patterns. And it works. Human creativity is a wild thing, and there have already been problems solved by gamers rather than algorithms. How this sort of wild, distributed problem solving can be deployed in support of the 99% is not yet clear. But we will see soon.

Pages in category "Activist Games"

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