Posts Tagged ‘Second Life’

I am not much of a “gamer” myself, and I had actually never thought of “gaming” as part of social media until I saw our class syllabus. I tried to activate a Second Life account, but the site would not accept any of my three working email addresses as valid. I quickly became frustrated with this problem and decided to browse the Second Life Destination Guide instead. I was shocked by how beautiful the Second Life world is. Parts of it reminded me of Universal Studios- especially when I saw that there are “Alice and Wonderland” destinations. After checking out several of these visually enchanting lands and builds, I actually see how people might become caught up in this world. I don’t see Second World continuing to grow. It looks like many companies are already pulling the plug on their marketing efforts in this second world. Second Life reminds me of Twitter in the sense that millions of people have activated accounts, but only a much smaller, core group of users exist.

While I was previously aware of Second Life and World of Warcraft, I had no idea that political and policy-related videogames existed until I browsed Persuasive Game’s portfolio. Games produced by this agency have addressed food safety and agribusiness, consumerism, personal debt, the global petroleum market, pandemic flu, wind energy, and even the politics of nutrition, which was big in the news last week. So, I downloaded and started to play FatWorld. Quickly, I realized how time consuming these games can be. I have a hard enough time staying current with the happenings in my own life and the physical world- who has time to play another person in a fictitious alternate universe? Not only do you have to learn the rules of the game- you also have to continuously play the game to develop your values and explore models demonstrated by the games. The graphics are also far simpler in these games than in Second World, although the issues addressed are much more complex.

Ian Bogost, author of Persuasive Games and founder of the agency by the same name, recently wrote an article highlighting the “unique power and potential of videogames to complexify rather than simplify the world.” He goes onto explain that “Games, like all media, can’t ever really change behavior; a game about nutrition won’t magically turn a player healthy, just as a game about criminality won’t magically turn a player delinquent…Instead, games can help us shape and explore our values. And today, our values better damned well be complex.” And complex values take constant care to develop and nurture. It seems like these games are actually for policy makers, whose lives revolve around exploring and understanding the complex values associated with their respective issues.

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