Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Video Games & Violence, Complicated

Students frequently want to write their argument papers about video games and whether they do or do not cause the players to become violent in real life. I try to complicate their thinking by steering them to James Paul Gee's book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (reviewed here). Today I found on the Chronicle of Higher Ed's Wired Campus Blog another way to complicate and enrich that thinking: Games for Social Change. Consider the new game Darfur is Dying that enables a player to experience remotely a sense of what life is like for Africans trying to survive the brutal attacks of the Janjaweed. And in fact, I learned that there is a "Games for Change" conference that just finished at the New School in New York City, which promotes working toward social justice and change in the world through video games. The conference program lists such games as A Force More Powerful, which, according to the G4C conference:
is the first and only game to teach the waging of conflict using nonviolent methods. Destined for use by activists, 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. AFMP is primarily a game of strategy, emphasizing abstract ideas and planning. Its realism depends on the accuracy of its underlying political models.
Other games include Airport Security, Ayiti: The Cost of Life, Homeless: It's No Game,ICED! I Can End Deportation,Karma Tycoon, and Oil God among others.

The next time my students propose to write about video games and violence I can offer them a deeper look at the topic.



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