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Games for Change

Games for Change

Written by Linda Biondi
August 06, 2010

Our global community has expanded but in spite of how close we have become, our students don’t always have the ability to understand what is happening in the world. Imagine being able to provide our students with the opportunity to “walk in someone’s shoes”.  Games for Change is one organization dedicated to providing resources for you to do just that.

The Games for Change website describes the organization this way:

Founded in 2004, Games for Change is a non-profit which seeks to harness the extraordinary power of digital games to address the most pressing issues of our day, including poverty, education, human rights, global conflict and climate change. Games for Change serves as a platform for organizations, individuals, government agencies, academics, journalists and the game industry to share best practices, exchange knowledge, incubate new projects and provide access to those seeking to use digital games to positively impact society.

The Games for Change website contains video games that simulate life experiences. Building on the concept that playing computer simulated games can foster civic learning, Games for Change, helps students understand the connections between their individual actions and the global community, and lay the foundation for ethical reasoning. For example, students can explore civic and judicial concepts in the video game Guardian of Law, where players “explore a virtual world and argue civil rights cases”. Another very timely game, Olligarchy, challenges the player (student) to explore and drill for oil. The player or “olligarch” manages the business by making informed decisions based on war, politics, corrupt politicians, and energy corporations. Although it is a game based on economics, the player must make informed decisions before the oil supply runs out.

Recent studies have shown that students who who play games that incorporate civic experiences are more likely to be civically engaged. (Kahne, Middagh, & Evans, 2008) and apply what they find in a game to the world outside it. However, it is important to note that the games are a vehicle for learning, not the curriculum alone. 

When you incorporate the games into your classroom, you will give the students an opportunity to practice meaningful and deliberate decision making, increase motivation to learn more civic responsibility and citizenship, and provide them with the vehicle of ethical reflection about society.  To accomplish this, try to find games that may require players to inhabit more than one side in a conflict or encourage players to choose between multiple goals or to create their own goals.

Games for Change aims to point educators to a wealth of serious games and allows you to search by channels.  The Game Channels include:

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