Games & Civic Awareness

As a recent explorer in the world of educational gaming, I’ve learned that games really do have much to teach–but not just about “content”, skills or problem-solving skills.  I’m talking about a game’s ability to reveal ‘how things work’–in organizations, cultures and politics alike and in doing so help us to see a particular point of view that we might otherwise miss.  Usually this POV is designed to raise awareness and highlight flaws in political systems, organizational processes or as in the case of Peacemaker, global conflicts.  Peacemaker and Ayiti are two examples of such games, but they’re certainly not the only ones.  In fact, those examples are part of a subset of games that are known as “Persuasive Games”.

Persuasive games have the power to help us see how these process work–and perhaps by doing so, civic awareness could lead to civic engagement.  What follows is a short (not comprehensive) list of other persuasive games to check out:

Of course, these games beg the questions:

  • Who gets to decide how these games are written?
  • How does the player differentiate between “facts” provided by gameplay and “assumptions” that the game is based upon?
  • How do we know that what we’re playing closely mirrors “real life”?

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