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Can games be a force for good?

07-18-2012, 04:04 PM
#1
Can games be a force for good?

Hey guys, I posted an article on Gamasutra that got featured today titled When Designing Socially Conscious Games Is Bad... and I thought it might spark some interesting discussions here at TA.

It's clear that games influence people more than ever before. The problem is right now most social "games" these days are essentially money-machine psychology experiments with candy coatings. They are empty and meaningless, mostly promote negative themes, manipulate users, and are hemorrhaging players left and right. This is no secret.

How much responsibility falls onto the game designers shoulders to use this power to influence people to make meaningful games? Is it possible to be both profitable and socially conscious as a small game studio?

What do you think?
07-18-2012, 04:10 PM
#2
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: The red Skittle
Posts: 5,771
I'm just going to point you in the direction of the following video, of a talk by Jane McGonigal.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgoni...s_of_life.html

It's a really good watch and I think it gives a nice answer to your initial question.



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07-18-2012, 05:21 PM
#3
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 20
It's a tricky question, but from my perspective, it's mostly entertainment. While a message can be conveyed through the more cinematic/learning style games, the ones you are talking about are pure entertainment for me.

Personally I don't play Farmville style games (cost to much), but they are equally legitimate reality escape as any hard core game out there. As long as people feel they get value for money and don't feel ripped off, I'm ok with that.
07-18-2012, 07:08 PM
#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Echoseven View Post
I'm just going to point you in the direction of the following video, of a talk by Jane McGonigal.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgoni...s_of_life.html

It's a really good watch and I think it gives a nice answer to your initial question.
Awesome video! Very inspiring! And thanks for the extra 7.5 minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmac1910 View Post
It's a tricky question, but from my perspective, it's mostly entertainment. While a message can be conveyed through the more cinematic/learning style games, the ones you are talking about are pure entertainment for me.

Personally I don't play Farmville style games (cost to much), but they are equally legitimate reality escape as any hard core game out there. As long as people feel they get value for money and don't feel ripped off, I'm ok with that.
It is all entertainment, and that's an important fact to remember! As soon as you cross the line between entertaining and trying to push a message you loose most gamers.

However, it seems like the opposite is proving true- Zynga can't retain users for the life of them in their games. At first their games feel like escapism, but before long new gamers realize it's just a treadmill designed to suck your time and dollars devoid of any real satisfaction and payoff. Millions are leaving Zynga daily with a bad taste in their mouth and a bitter attitude.

What if at the same time as providing entertainment we could be adding another layer of depth to games by promoting positive messages, creating meaningful shared experiences, or letting them donate to a charity through play...

What do you think would happen to DAU, MAU, and player retention levels then? What would happen to the virality of the game?

What would happen if instead of spamming your friend's facebook wall so you can get more seeds, you ask your friends for help on twitter so you can get enough points to plant another tree in the rainforest?
07-18-2012, 07:55 PM
#5
Games are just tools. As such, they can be used for good or for bad.

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07-18-2012, 09:52 PM
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienSpace View Post
Games are just tools. As such, they can be used for good or for bad.
Exactly. So what I want to know is do you think one can build a successful game company built off of games for good?

Perhaps that is the next step in acquiring and retaining users, specifically the elusive Gen Y users!
  • 61% of 13-25 year olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world
  • 81% have volunteered in the past year
  • 69% consider a company's social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop
  • 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible
http://www.premisemarketing.com/blog...nge-the-world/
07-19-2012, 03:19 AM
#7
I think there is definite proof out there that games can be a force for good.
For instance, there's http://www.humblebundle.com/
07-19-2012, 06:41 AM
#8
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 20
I don't think you can build a gaming company out of good only, unless you are only making educational games or something like that. But then you are pretty much outside of the "real" gaming industry.

Gaming from my perspective is the purest form of entertainment, cause you are the hero, and the games make you feel that you have accomplished something. Some games do this better than others. Of course who is considered to be a hero is decided by the point of views of that society.

Some companies are trying to exploit that, but people can see through that quite quickly and won't be back. I personally feel that gaming should be left as pure entertainment and let the consumers decide whether they want to support that piece of software or not. Also, most gamers are good .
07-19-2012, 07:55 AM
#9
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: UK
Posts: 195
Quote:
Originally Posted by BravadoWaffle View Post
Exactly. So what I want to know is do you think one can build a successful game company built off of games for good?

Perhaps that is the next step in acquiring and retaining users, specifically the elusive Gen Y users!
  • 61% of 13-25 year olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world
  • 81% have volunteered in the past year
  • 69% consider a company's social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop
  • 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible
http://www.premisemarketing.com/blog...nge-the-world/
Interesting statistics

But to answer the question:
"do you think one can build a successful game company built off of games for good?"

I say Yes it is possible, but certainly not easy

I would bet that most Gamers that spend the most money on games/iAP are from the older generation, aged 25+ who are less inclined to "change the world" and more eager to consume entertainment

So the choice developers face is:
do we try to market our games at Gen-Y gamers for the "greater good"?
or do we try to market our games at the older generation for greater sales?

As with all things, we must strive to hit yet another balance in order to try become successful, this time between Profitability and Education.

And as with all things, different developers will have their own opinions and bias
07-19-2012, 07:58 AM
#10
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
Quote:
Originally Posted by RevolvingDoor View Post
I think there is definite proof out there that games can be a force for good.
For instance, there's http://www.humblebundle.com/
the humble bundle is a service.. non of the games themself are "educational"

if cou want to donate to charity, donate to them.. why on earth do you need to go through 10 hoops todo so?

why do you need to bundle indie games with a charity? because its good pr.
why do you need to buy beer to help the "virgin forrest" (urwald)? because its good pr bullshit..

i bought every bundle and never gave anything to childs play..because why on earth should i send money to one of the richest country to the usa can buy an xbox for some sick child.. where on the other side of the planet a 💩💩💩💩ing child dies because it has no food.

so no humbe bundle is not good in my book and childs play neither..

if you want to donate.. write a check and send it to the charity of your choice.. don't bundle it with your "product" to make you look good..

/rant over..


so back to the topic (which is not donating/charity)

i think games are entertainment.. and people choose themself how they want to be entertained.. one watches action flick #36 on dvd and the other watches a documentary..

but its the same with games.. either you are educational or not.. and if you are educational you are in a seperate niche..

to plaster a game with a "message" is not good or evil.. its just a "theme", skin whatever you want to call it..

but that makes a game neither "good" or "bad".

if you want to make an educational game , good make one. but it will be an educational game.. and if its not educational.. its a fake "generic" games with a "good" theme slapped on it..

people play call of duty and blow their brains out a million time every day because its fun todo so..

i fail to see the theoretic esotherical mumbo jumbo some "game designers" need to apply to their product to differentiate themself from the rest.

make a good game about slicing of heads from baby bamby, make a million bucks.. send the money to africa.. "good" job done..

should a "game" be a force of good? no i don't think so..

can an individual be a force of good? yeah if he wants to, go for it..