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Feature: 'The Rise of Serious Games'

The 'serious games' phenomenon isn't just about education - it's about tackling major social issues and making players reconsider their opinions through games. In to
The 'serious games' phenomenon isn't just about education - it's about tackling major social issues and making players reconsider their opinions through games. In today's main feature, Gamasutra talks to Paolo Pedercini, Chris Swain, Ian Bogost, and Gonzalo Frasca about activist gaming today. In this excerpt, feature author Bryan Ochalla says that Swain, who has just launched his title The Redistricting Game at the recent Games for Change Festival in New York, is one of the success stories that helps push the genre forward: “Such a notion may seem a bit pie in the sky, especially considering The Redistricting Game’s content. According to a press release that preceded the game’s launch, “the game exposes how redistricting works, how it is abused and how it adversely affects democracy. It provides hands-on understanding of the real redistricting process, including drawing district maps and interacting with party bosses, congresspeople, citizen groups and courts. Players directly experience how crafty manipulations of lines can yield skewed victories for either party—effectively allowing politicians to choose their voters instead of voters choosing their politicians.” Why did Swain make a game about gerrymandering, and why would anyone want to play it? Telling someone how redistricting works and what it means can be cumbersome and hard to grasp, Swain replies. “However, if she could gain an understanding of redistricting by experiencing it via a fact-based interactive system, then she may come to her own conclusions about its ramifications. “Our goal with The Redistricting Game is to provide an objective look at the phenomenon and let people come to their own conclusions,” he adds. “We don’t side with one political party and we don’t push an agenda. We just want the game to demystify redistricting in a credible way and we want people to have a good time while playing it.” You can now read the complete feature on the topic with much more from on a number of key serious and activist games including The McDonald’s Video Game, PeaceMaker, and Disaffected! (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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