Sunday, March 05, 2006

Games for learning

In the increasing cross-over between the physical and virtual realms, online gaming is becoming a 'space' where we can learn. A post from Worldchanging called 'Game Designer, Heal Thyself' by Alex Steffen discusses just this:

"Games can be tools for learning how to change the world: in virtual worlds we can design cities, overthrow dictatorships and run refugee camps, but many of the most popular games are still about adventure and combat. But what if we had games whose adventures were based not on violence, but healing?

"Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments. Rather than spawning mobs, spawn ill people. Instead of weapons, have medicines. Instead of managing aggro, manage fever. Instead of armors, we have disinfectants. Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding."

Such games could be not only absorbing but instructive. All game worlds have political lessons embedded within them, and almost all play has an aspect of learning to it."

This brings me to a new game about strategies of cooperation, learning non-violent methods to solve the situation rather than the usual shoot 'em up - great idea!

In a post from Smartmobs:

"A Force More Powerful is what I call a real technology of cooperation:

Can a computer game teach how to fight real-world adversaries—dictators, military occupiers and corrupt rulers, using methods that have succeeded in actual conflicts—not with laser rays or AK47s, but with non-military strategies and nonviolent weapons? Such a game, A Force More Powerful (AFMP), is now available. A unique collaboration of experts on nonviolent conflict working with veteran game designers has developed a simulation game that teaches the strategy of nonviolent conflict. A dozen scenarios, inspired by recent history, include conflicts against dictators, occupiers, colonizers and corrupt regimes, as well as struggles to secure the political and human rights of ethnic and racial minorities and women.
A Force More Powerful is the first and only game to teach the waging of conflict using nonviolent methods. Destined for use by activists and leaders of nonviolent resistance and opposition movements, the game will also educate the media and general public on the potential of nonviolent action and serve as a simulation tool for academic studies of nonviolent resistance."

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