Playing for Social Change: Are you Game?
Gaming has come a long way from being a stress buster to a tool for meaningful change and from being associated with teenagers to a learning tool for professionals across levels. We know that with rapid technological advancements, affordable hand-held devices, and high-speed networks, gaming has only grown more significant across a diverse range of audiences.
Technological advancements that make social gaming possible
As CPUs got replaced by GPUs, game development saw a big change in the elements that could be built up. Game designers saw opportunities to add more layers and permutations and combinations to increase the complexity of the game. With the increase in handheld device usage and better internet speeds, gaming has found greater acceptance as a tool for maneuvering change, and we can explore the concept of “gaming for change.” Moreover, interesting features are helping inclusive game design so that they are more relatable to multigenerational users.
Why games can do wonders for social change
Across the globe, people and organizations have become more conscious about a responsible and sustainable existence. Whether it is environmental change, racial discrimination, or healthcare issues social media is abuzz with influencers and even brands who are rallying behind a cause and going beyond tokenism to advocate meaningful change.
It comes as no surprise that game development and gamification companies are leveraging social change as a powerful theme to weave into their latest products. Topics such as diversity & inclusion, building self-esteem, mental health, and environmental consciousness are much more effective when presented with a gaming wrapper. Such games can pose diverse and increasingly complex scenarios where learners can apply themselves. Games for social change can also let futuristic or alternate scenarios play out so that players can put the repercussions of their actions into context. For example, take a game that addresses growing environmental issues and climate change, where you are the decision maker for climate policies. This causes the player to widen their perspectives and gives them actual options to weigh instead of opting for a black and white answer. It can ensure the player is better informed about how climate change affects a general population from large businesses to the children playing in our backyards. The more realistic the game dynamics and scenarios, the greater the chances of getting people to empathize with a demographic and urge them to seek newer and better solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s problems.
What’s next for gaming for social change?
With the leaps in internet and cloud-based technology, gaming certainly stands to gain a boost in performance and experience. As organizations see greater promise in gaming as an instrument for effective change, gaming is here to play a greater role in supporting causes that matter. But the benefits of games for social change hinge on the ability of the game to deliver key concepts in a structured manner and encourage participation in the game. Games that are inclusive and user-friendly can be potent drivers of behavioral reform because firstly, the player remains immersed in the gaming content and is not distracted by clunky gaming mechanics and secondly, because it should be accessible in order to be truly effective.
When done right, technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality can really widen the scope of possibilities for highly personalized game play. Using more advanced methods, game designers can leverage newer concepts like Projection Mapping to make the game all the more vivid and real. Projection Mapping is a technique that allows games or other immersive material to be projected onto surfaces. These surfaces are given the form of gaming elements like cityscapes, buildings, blocks, etc. When playing social games for change, this can give a player better awareness of the surrounding they are dealing with, better insight into the physical landscape of an area, or simply make the gaming concept more tangible and amplify the ultimate outcome of the gaming experience.
Social Games for the Workplace
Employee playing videogames at work
In the context of corporate learning, many organizations are now recognizing the benefits of using gamification and serious games to cover pressing social or workplace issues through corporate training. These games can either challenge or reinforce the convictions of the learners and provide social interventions amicably. Gamification or serious games could also socialize the learning process, build a sense of community among employees, and motivate positive behaviors. Analytics and data from these experiences can reveal areas where the gamers need learning interventions, and these can be mapped to more personalized learning roadmaps.
As gaming technology advances and becomes more accessible to even the most remote areas, gamification companies have the potential to be great effectors of social change. All that’s left now is to Play for Good!
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– By Saurabh Turakhia , Senior Executive – Content at MPS Interactive Systems