Digital Studies: Retrograde. Can Games Inspire Social Change?

I do think games can be an effective tool for social change, in more than one way. I think games can seriously impact how people look at and understand the world, just like books and movies can, and sometimes even more so, since you as the player controlling the game often feel a stronger connection to what is happening in the game. Bad News Illustrates how people in the digital age can often become disconnected from their actions. In the game I was encouraged to take action that would make hurt others for my own personal gain. I was rewarded for sowing seeds of hate and distrust, for impersonating other and forging documents, and for causing someone to resign from their post, not to mention harming victims of a plane crash (albeit indirectly). When you’re behind a key board or you’re a part of a mob its easy to become emboldened or feel as though you are untouchable, like your actions are without fault, but with certain games you can directly see the impact of these actions, they are not done in a vacuum they impact everything that happens to you.

 Not only can games be very impactful on how we look at the world they can also be very informative, earlier this year I played through a game (more like a simulation) on playspent.org which simulated the experiences of individuals living below the poverty line and gave a series of statistics about food insecurity, poverty, and housing insecurity among other things, I have since recommended it to a number of friends as well. Not only was it affective at informing people about poverty it also provided direct access to organizations that help people in poverty. When I was playing through the simulation, I felt invested in the survival of the person whose life I was controlling, how often can someone honestly say they are invested in the well being of another person, whom they do not know and they are not related to. If someone was able to carry the understanding they got from the game as well as the feeling, the desire to help those in need we could see immediate social change

I think that, anything has the power to inspire change our society and its all about how we use it. I think we are in a place right now where, if we don’t do something our society will collapse, either due to war, or weather or whatever, but I think that anything that can have a lasting impact on the way we see the world and the we think about and interact with others is a welcome to tool to foster peace and understanding, and if it happens to be a video game, even better.

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