From Table Top to Screen: Games for Social Change

Being able to experience the games created by the others in Designing Innovation was a treat. It was great to see my colleagues create games and it was apparent that they truly invested time and effort making a social change. I spent the most time playing Codepet, created by Laura Kurtzberg and Chelsea Haina. This game is to teach kids how to code and as an educator, I found this to be a fun and useful tool. What was most motivating was the feedback that we were able to give that would make the game really expand and create newer coding statements. The introduction of If Then statements to children will help them grasp not only coding but cause and effect while also teaching that to every action there are consequences.

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When Friends Work Together

Working with Rori Kotch  has been an incredible experience. We have learned so much together and have supported one another through deadlines and spent long hours to go beyond what we even expected from ourselves as individuals. We didn’t need to push each other in the projects we’ve worked on; we both kept each other moving like two cogs. Our assignment this round was to play Pandemic, a game about disease control which educates players about the necessities to keep a global outbreak from happening. It was fun to sit down and play a game with Rori and we found ourselves having to enter the porous Magic Circle when it was game time. Yeah, this was work. But this was also a game. I could feel something different going on as we studied the game and had to become invested and immersed. Once we gave in, the game began to flow and we sought objectives as gamers. We were very 1337.

Figure 1. Pandemic lays out the basics on the first page so that players can orient themselves.

Figure 2. The next pages explain movements which were simple to follow after a round or two.

Figure 3. Things begin to get interesting as I feel a connection to the Latin American region as I have friends and loved ones living there demonstrating Magic Circle theory of how real world discrimination and points of view are carried into the game environment.

Figure 4. Wanting to visit a loved one in Colombia, I quickly point out to Rori that Bogotá needs to be saved. The game calls for strategy but player types have different motivations on how they think they should approach the choices presented.

Figure 5. Having lived in Buenos Aires, I was extremely pleased to eradicate the card from the game. It was the event cards that really determined how Rori and I were eventually able to eradicate all the diseases in the game.

Figure 6. As Rori took care of Asia, I used an airlift event card to meet her in Europe and finish in the Middle East.

The game was extremely entertaining and did simulate the frustration that one would face when diseases cannot be contained and then spread. The game had events which made it pleasurable for us but in reality, diseases kill and that is not a topic to take lightly. The use of  Earth as a map can help create empathy for players which I found to be the most valuable lesson to take away: that as a globe we are fighting to eradicate extinction, a repetition of the Black Plague or the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Depressive Quest

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We were asked to play a virtual game for social change and I chose Depressive Quest. As an advocate and open sufferer of anxiety and depression, I found this game to be very valuable. There were many warnings and links to the National Suicide Hotline which at first was disconcerting. There were warnings for suffers not to play and quite honestly I saw it as a challenge. I wanted to see how they capture a depressive state in a virtual game. I was amazed that they were able to capture the narrative with restricting choices. Many times those that suffer from anxiety or depression want to speak up and they cannot because they feel choked up and lack access to healthcare professionals. I was upset that I was not able to find an option to or able to choose to seek help but it was so real and simply in text. It captured what happens. It even restrained choices, I may easily want to click to go to work but when one is suffering from a mental health issue, simple functions such as going to work are affected. I was highly impressed and do not suggest having others who suffer depression to play. One round was enough for me as it struck close to home and as the game stated at the end. This game there is no winning, just a simulation of the helplessness that many feel when they really want to succeed. #endstigma #mentalhealth