Serious about Games Yet?
It all started in June 2004. This was the very first Games for Change Festival ever, it was held at New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. The goal? To investigate whether or not games could become serious games, ones that could be used for educational purposes and to inspire social change. Unfortunately only forty-two people attended…
However, this year’s Games for Change Festival will prove just how strong this movement has become. It has been projected that more than 800 people have attended in-person and an additional 10,000 people will have attended the event through streaming this past week. The festival also nabbed a great ally in their quest for social good by partnering with the Tribeca Film Festival for this year’s event.
Benjamin Stokes, a co-founder for the event admitted the original small festival was a very intimate and productive one, however is very happy to see how awareness has grown in recent years.
The big movement in support of serious games and their benefits is thanks in part to the increase of social media and different devices that people use to access the internet. Thanks to the iPhone, tablets, and websites like Facebook, more and more people are being exposed to games of all sorts. People who never used to play games are now finding themselves curious to see what all the fuss is about.
Despite starting small, this festival has definitely grown throughout the years. This is evident if for no other reason than the different keynote speakers who have been taking part. For example, Sandra Day O’Connor (retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice) was a keynote speaker. She took part in overseeing the game iCivics (a web-based educational game twhich teaches students about civics). Another notable keynote speaker was Al Gore who mentioned in his speech that “games are the new norm”.
The shift in society to not only accepting games but embracing them as viable teaching resources shows how far this technology has come since this festival initially started. Web-based games and skill based games have been integrated into many areas of education and businesses. This includes simulated training games and even promoting customer loyalty by using gamification.
Another reason why gaming is growing in popularity is that many of the original gamers are now in their 20s and 30s. They are voting, they are heads of houses, they are raising children. Rather than the idea that games are foolish or a waste of time. There has been more support in favor of games, citing mental stimulation.
Further proof that serious games are being more widely recognized? Electronic Arts has recently partnered with Pearson (an educational publisher), among other companies, to release educational games. One example is an educational version of the very popular SimCity game.
The battle for serious games isn’t over though. Just because more and more people are realizing the usefulness of these games, doesn’t mean that they are be utilized to their full potential. This article claims that only 1 out of every 5 serious or educational games actually end up in the classroom.
Looking to the future we need to not only develop new games and technologies, but also discover ways to make them more accessible to educators and schools. It would be a shame to let such a great resource go to waste.