Awareness through Games?!

Thanks to the social media we have become more and more aware of problems that not only happen in the United States but around the world as well. Many people have united to take a stand and fight for change and they will go through great measures to achieve it. A recent New York Times article brought light to the fact that there is a game that will draw attention to women’s issues. One of the biggest social media sites, Facebook, will be unveiling a new game that is based on the book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” that focuses on bringing attention to issues like female genital mutilation and child prostitution. The game will be based on a girl named Radhika and in this game the player can donate money in the game and the money will go to one of seven nonprofit organizations that were woven into the game; for example one can donate $20 to help support United Nations Foundation immunization efforts.

One of the doubts that I had about this game was whether or not it would bring enough awareness to an issue? Would people ignore games like this on Facebook? And the last question that I had was would people actually want to donate to these causes? As I did more research I found that the further you got in the game, more levels would be unlocked and other bigger corporations would make donations. I surely hope that this would engage more players because it is for a good cause.

As more games begin to surface that try to bring awareness to issues, one begins to question whether or not this is enough and if they are targeting everyone. Of course not everyone is going to be targeted because there are people around the world who do not have Internet access like we do or do not have Facebook or it might be a combination of both. Another issue that crossed my mind was that people could ignore this game or any request they receive regarding this game, I know that I, along with others, ignore plenty of FarmVille requests on Facebook because I use Facebook for the sole purpose of connecting with friends and family. So this game among with other games would not get all of the audience they intended on capturing. Now I am not saying that nobody would play this game, of course there would be people interested because this is for a good cause and it could be a fun game to play and could make the player more aware of this issue that is happening.

There are a lot of games already that try to bring out awareness. This article has lots and lots of different types of games that has awareness attached to it. For example: Ayiti: The Cost of Life which is a game that focuses on poverty in Haiti.ayatit

The link above was the game and I just played this game and man was it sad. First of all I really did not know cause like in every game I did not read it but when I did I understood what was happening. This actually did affect me and how I view my life and what I have. Another game on this site is another game that is through Facebook called Food Force and this game has to do with none other than food and trying to aid different countries around the world with hunger.

food force

Games on social media will bring more awareness to those who do not already know some of the more pressing issues that are going on around the world but they would also be able to donate money to causes they feel really passionate towards. But one of the bigger questions remains on whether or not games like this will be played and whether or not a lot of contributions will be made.


  3 comments for “Awareness through Games?!

  1. Dylan Tibert
    February 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    This might seem a bit odd, but I read your blog post and immediately thought of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible man. See, Ellison was really frustrated with how limiting the discourse around racial oppression was; it tried to address problems in a straightforward fashion that fell short of really resonating with the issues that mattered and needed to be thrown out there. He didn’t want to just add to the pile of direct protest novels out there, so he took a very surreal, artistic approach with Invisible Man. Having read this book, I feel like I engaged more deeply with the intellectual and social issues therein through the hazy,gripping, jazz-fueled narrative than any textbook or informational pamphlet could allow.

    Point being, I believe video games as a potential form of art can represent and bring issues to the forefront of people’s minds just as Invisible Man did. Sure, if a social-justice seeking developer wants as many people as possible to have a plug for their game shoved in their face while they’re on Facebook, then a few bored people are bound to click on it and share it. But how much discussion will it generate if it’s just a superficial message that got clumped together with games like Farmville, falling outside the interest of those looking for a intellectually engaging experience? Even a game like Portal does wonders for awareness of female representation in media by having a fun, engaging, clever game that doesn’t make a fuss about the fact that there are only female characters. Another great example is Spec Ops: Down the Line, as discussed in the Specopalypse article, wherein the brutalities of war are shoved in the player’s faces where they can’t ignore it.

  2. estackpo
    February 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    As a concept I think that the genre of awareness videogames is fantastic. Giving an example of the daily struggle of someone somewhere else in the world in such a visual way should be the perfect way to create empathy and make the player want to support whatever the cause is that is being played through. The thing is, I can’t help but hate on the fact that all of these games seem incredibly condescending in their design. More specifically, the fact that you play as what appears to be some sort of Disney drawn character in a cartoon world doesn’t match up with the seriousness of the issue that it is trying to focus on. I feel that the possible feeling of empathy that this game could create comes off as highly inauthentic and the sense of understanding feels false. Just because we have a grasp of the concepts of poverty and what it means factually to live in that kind of state, doesn’t mean we truly know how it feels to live like that.

  3. cristina
    March 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    As a response to Estackpo saying that playing as a “Disney drawn character in a cartoon would doesn’t match up with the seriousness of the issue that it is trying to focus on,” I think that the utilization of the “disney drawn character” provides the game and the issue a wider appeal. Children will be drawn to the game because of the graphics, but they will learn about a serious issue by playing the game itself. If the game had a more realistic graphic environment, I really don’t believe many people would want to play it.

    I thought the blog post was well written, and I think you provided a number of examples to support your “thesis.” I do agree that the utilization of social media has opened up the world quite a bit and has provided a platform for social issues to be shared. I think it’s a great idea to add awareness in the form of a video game.

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