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Awareness Games / Persuasive Games

edited July 2011 in Video Games
I watched the documentary Playing Columbine on The Netflix, and it got me thinking about serious games designed to promote awareness. These games are not necessarily designed for fun (nor the Dwarf Fortress sense of the word fun). Although serious games include sim games and edutainment games, I would like to exclude those from this discussion.

Doing a search for awareness games on Google, it recommends: self awareness games, cultural awareness games, environmental awareness games, diversity awareness games. I think social awareness games might be another example. Note that many of these recommendations end up giving results for real life games similar to team building activities rather than video games. That raises the question of whether or not any of these topics are suitable for exploration with digital video games.

Some awareness games could be considered persuasive games, as they often try to persuade some viewpoint on the issue at hand while attempting to gain awareness. In fact, I think it could be argued that every game I've listed below has some kind of political agenda. Perhaps there are awareness games without political agendas?

Here is a small list of games I have been able to find that promote either novel perspectives on issues or novel methods of conveying perspectives on issues:
The TSA Airport Security Game (airport security policy)
Darfur is Dying (civilian life in Darfur)
The Killer (mass killings in Cambodia)
Fate of the World (save the environment ... ish)
Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (juxtapose violence in video games with violence in real life)
McDonald's video game (profit motive vs ethics)

What sort of games along these lines have you seen, played, enjoyed, hated?
Would this be a medium you would like to see used to spread propaganda for some political position?
Would this be a medium you would like to see used to gain awareness for some specific purpose that affects your life?


  • Oilgarchy is an awesome dwindling resources game I stumbled upon when I should have been studying once. You instinctively start the game hoping for a high score, taking the common sense moves, and then suddenly find yourself in an oddly familiar situation.

    Also, board games do a much better job of awareness than video games. Mechanics like supply and demand, diplomacy, and war tactics are so integrated into the experience, we forget that such mechanics can be used to spread awareness. Power Grid was the first game that came to my mind: resource prices change, and the "less than optimal" environmental choice is oftentimes ignored.
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