Saving The Planet Via "Games For Change"
The typical video game might have players rescuing the planet from destructive alien forces, but at the Games for Change conference, some titles are allowing gamers to save the Earth from pollution, fossil fuels and other realistic problems humankind faces everyday. NY1’s Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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At the eighth annual Games for Change conference, Earth is being destroyed, but not as it is in commercial, more mainstream video games in which planetary demise usually comes at the hands of aliens.
Games for Change presents games in which the planet is being destroyed in exactly the same way humans are destroying it in real life: via pollution, fossil fuels and just generally bad choices.
“I bet you every parent would love to see their kids play a ‘Game for Change’ — that is my guess,” said Michelle Byrd of Games for Change. “There is not undue violence. These are games dealing with real world issues inspiring people to think about the world in which they live.”
Though no cameras were allowed at the speech, senator turned vice president turned environmental activist Al Gore presented the keynote, apparently in support of video games as a way to reach kids and adults on important social issues.
“I tried very hard with his staff to figure out if we could convince him or encourage him to promise to make a Game for Change,” said Byrd. “We didn't quite get there, but hopefully a large audience this afternoon will push him in that direction.”
While just getting kids to play these games is a main goal, there was also an entire day devoted to kids creating their own Games for Change at the conference.
Barry Joseph has been encouraging such for nine years with the organization Global Kids, which sets up after school programs that teach programming and socially conscious game design.
“When you're actually trying to model something that exists in the world, you have to think about the different parts and how they relate to each other,” said Joseph. “And so when you get to create a game, you're creating that system, and when you're creating that system, you're playing with it from the inside out rather than looking at it from the outside in.”
Organizers said that they are trying to get interactive kiosks with Games for Change into public cultural spaces around the country.
In the meantime, users can play for free at GamesForChange.org/Play.