Sunday, 17 June 2012
Brathwaite: A Proper Introduction to Serious Game Development
Just wow, this is a great introduction into serious gaming and how it should be done. Brathwaite clearly demonstrates the lack of emotional involvement in mainstream education. Some teachers might be allergic to emotions, but you should be moved by something like slavery and the stories that surround it.
Additionally she demonstrates some features game development. It's very difficult to realise behaviour change through any medium, let alone a game. However children do learn essential social and motor skills through games. I don't think adults have unlearned it.
Letting a player make crucial decisions that can be linked to real world events should be part of any serious game. The brilliant example of dumping slaves into sea because there's to little food on a imaginary boat is a harsh example. Brathwaite uses abstract figures to represent pawns and delivers feedback to her daughter. It is the feedback that is crucial to link the abstract playworld to the actual choices. A digital version could for example even add documentary footage of slaves being thrown into the ocean.
However there's a dilemma. A game that's truly shocking like that might not be very appealing to play. The game mechanics might even be great but it leaves a bitter aftertaste. Games should atleast contain an element of enjoyment. A slavery game might well just be avoided by kids, if they are allowed to choose for themselves. Reducing realism and a strong feedback to real events might distance kids from taking it serious.
It would be quite awkward if kids shouted: Yeah, let's play the slavery game! On the other hand you wouldn't like a classroom full of crying children, just imagine the teacher being traumatised.
I wonder where the point of balance lies. Still enjoying, but take serious nonetheless.