We all know that video games are fun and entertaining, but can they be used to change the world for the better? Games for Change, a non-profit organization that supports “catalyzing social impact through digital games,” believes so. To that end, the group has nominated 8 different games for an award designed to honor games that inspire real-world change, personal development and a brighter future for all.
Some of the games demand you connect better to your body and its senses. One nominee, Nevermind, is a “psychological horror puzzle game that uses a heart rate sensor to challenge the player to stay calm in uncomfortable situations.” Another, Blindside, recreates the experience of being blind by immersing you in a complex, 3D sound-filled world devoid of sights. Other games, such as Data Dealer, encourage you to think about your world. In it, you're tasked with collecting and selling customers' personal information and data, much the way companies like Facebook and Google do.
One of my personal favorites is The Republia Times, a simple game that has you taking on the task of editing a state-run propaganda newspaper. Your goal is to bury stories that make your country look bad, and to promote stories that raise the public’s confidence in the government even as it suffers military setbacks and disastrous weather events. It’s a simple (free!) game that takes minutes to learn, but it teaches a lot about propaganda and encourages critical thinking about the stories that appear in your own local paper.
Some of the nominated games require special hardware, but others are absolutely free to play from your web browser. From what I've seen (and played), these are some terrific, educational games definitely worth checking out. Winners will be announced at the 10th Annual Games for Change Festival on June 18.