Serious Games: Video Games for Social Change

America’s Army is a video game owned by the US government and used as a recruitment tool. Obviously it has had a fair amount of criticsm for being a propoganda machine. But America’s Army is just one of many video games designed to get people to think and act a certain way.

Excerpts from: Playsuasion: The World of Persuasive Games
Rilla Khaled, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The idea of using video games to persuade is a relatively new idea, but has already seen a great deal of interest in both the commercial, social marketing, and academic spheres.

serious games describe any game that is “not specifically entertainment, but which uses entertainment or the techniques and processes of the entertainment business, to achieve a purpose”

One serious game that has received a significant amount of media coverage is America’s Army. Known as the “official U.S. Army game”, America’s Army doubles both as an entertainment game, and as a means of obtaining a particular view of what it might be like to be a member of the U.S. army, thereby acting as a recruitment tool. Another example is “Darfur is Dying”, co-developed by MTV, Reebok, and students from the University of Southern California, which is a simulation game highlighting some of the hardships faced by Darfurian refugees.

There is no doubt that persuasive games, in a general sense, are both big business and potentially important tools for social change. The persuasive games domain remains fairly underdeveloped, with serious games representing the majority of academic research.

Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul

Video Games are Good for Your Soul, by James Paul Gee

Are so called “persuasive games” a good or a bad thing? Should there be any kind of control over what kinds of persuasive games kids can be exposed to? Will serious games ever be as popular as “fun” games?

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