Do serious games create a better world
Gaming can create a better world, that is what Jane McGonigal said in a Ted Talk in 2010 (www.ted.com/talks). In her vision play and games empower us not only to solve the problems in a virtual world but also can lead us to change the real world. Also Mary Flanigan in her book Critical Play (2005) underlines the importance of Play to resolve the fundamental questions in life and/or society.
According to McGonical, games create a super-empowered individual who is strongly motivated for change. The power comes not only from the large numbers that participate in serious games (see e.g Fold-it where scientific knowledge is shared to produce new medicines), but are the consequence of more intrinsic qualities of the medium. Many (game)designers and players envision a more participatory process of creation and more decentralized and democratic ways of decision making. Crowdsourcing and Play Design looks set to become modern ‘toolkits’ for change in which: 1) Buttom up decision making is made possible instead of hierarchical top-down decision making 2) Games function as platforms for user participation, 3) Instant prototyping and sustainability are supported. In my lecture I will discuss these visions and analyze the quality of game and play as cultural objects.
Ben Schouten graduated from the Rietveld Art Academy in 1983. He found himself interested in patterns and iconography, and discovered his fascination for mathematics. In 1995 he received a Master’s degree in mathematics, specializing in chaos theory. In 2001 he received his PhD for his thesis on content based image retrieval and interfaces that allow browsing & searching for images in an intuitive way. His thesis was acknowledged with a Bronze World Medal for Design in the New Media category, sub-category Information and Education, in New York, USA. In 2008 he was appointed Associate Professor of Serious Game Design at Fontys University of Applied Science and in 2010 full professor in playful Interactions at the department of Industrial Design of Eindhoven University. He is an advisor for the European Commission on the ‘Internet of Things’ as well as for the Dutch Cultural Media Fund, responsible for E-culture.