Engagement in play, engagement in politics: Political video games
It is a widely shared value in Western democracies that citizens should engage themselves with political and social issues. This engagement is not necessarily confined to party politics, but includes other aspects of citizenship as well; from commitment to a local cause to supporting a global campaign of an NGO. As a result of what Bogost called their ‘expressive nature’ video games are an excellent platform for encouraging and developing such engagement. Games are capable to reveal complex situations in a relatively simple way and as such encourage reflection about what is going on in the world. Playing a political game may stimulate players to undertake action, for example by informing themselves about the issue, or discussing the issue with friends. In our chapter we will discuss the results of our own research about different political games (Neys & Jansz, 2010; De Grove et al., in press) and critically discuss these results in light of the consequences playing such games might have. We argue that it is the group that is moderately interested in politics that can possibly be persuaded to participate actively in political discussions if they are facilitated by ‘tools’ that concord with their personal context.
Jeroen Jansz holds the chair of Communication and Media in the Department of Media and Communication and ERMeCC (Erasmus Research Center for Media, Communication and Culture), Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His research is about the reception of new media. The appeal of (violent) video games on (young) players is a long standing research interest as well as investigating games as tool for civic engagement. Recently, he focuses on user generated creative content on the Internet and the convergence of the roles of users and producers. His research has been published in international academic journals. He was co-founder of the Game Studies group in the International Communication Association, and of DiGRA’s Dutch chapter. He often participates in public discussions about new media use, for example as board member of PEGI, the Pan European Game Information system. He is President of NeFCA, the Netherlands Flanders Communication Association.