I am researching a new serious game simulation of gang enterprise in Chicago. The sim will be played for experiential, educational and therapeutic purposes by gang members, their families, members of their community, and their victims. It will also be played by people whose work affects gang enterprise: social workers, public health officials, public safety and police officers, judges, attorneys, urban planners, economists, public school teachers, business owners, and policy-makers. Each of these categories will play for different outcomes. All will play "for the win": to improve their lives and work, and to enjoy doing it.
My motives for designing this simulation are epic. I want to make interactive media mitigate an extremely deep, damaging and persistent problem that harms the city of Chicago, and other cities, and the nation as a whole.
In addition to researching content, I am also researching technique. I will use technologies of systems thinking and dynamic modeling to turn this intractable, costly, profoundly bewildering and mismanaged problem into a logical system: a virtual world of the ghetto, in which experience, learning and therapy are delivered in a safe, nonjudgmental, and authentic context. Like all great simulations, this one will not create solutions. It will instead increase understanding and allow players of all kinds to experiment with solutions that seem plausible to them, and examine the consequences of their choices.
My research is being advised by the Sheriff's Office of Cook County, home of the largest jail in the United States and the greatest concentration of subject-matter experts including prisoners and police. It is also being advised by scholars and practitioners with expertise in dimensions of gang enterprise: historical, cultural, social, racial, procedural, political, and economic.
Research, design and development of this serious game will be financed by SBIR and foundation grants. The finished product - a high-fidelity, multimedia videogame simulation - will be freely available to the public. No player will have to pay to play.
I want the project to generate software IP - the dynamic model - that a commercial game developer will license, in order to create a profitable entertainment title that feels like something David Simon produced. I want the proceeds of licensing to help to cover the costs of the serious project, including ongoing development.
If you wish to become involved in research and prototyping, please connect. At this early stage I want to identify a leadership team for my grant applications.
If you are with a grant-making organization that might like to support this project, please connect. I am using the The Foundation Center to identify grant makers. I don't want to overlook any potentials.
If you work with a studio that might like to acquire IP from this project for your own commercial portfolio, please connect.
Finally, if you have personal perspective, knowledge, advice, or encouragement that could enhance my understanding or approach, please connect.
Information about me is at beckermultimedia.com and on LinkedIn.