15 Years!

Anatomy of Games for Social Good

Since this year’s OGPC theme has been opened up to be any “Gaming for Social Good” theme of your choosing, additional responsibility has been placed on you to figure out your theme. This extra responsibility is challenging indeed! Let’s think about what “Gaming for Social Good” means in preparation for developing our game idea.

What is a “Social Good”?

A “Social Good” is any act or service that is good for people. For Example:

I take my neighbor’s garbage can down to the street.

When I do this I am performing an act of “Social Good”.

What is a “Social Issue”?

A “Social Issue” is a problem that some group of people share. For example:

in my neighborhood there are a lot of elderly people who find it hard to take their garbage cans down to the street.

We can call this social issue “Care for the Elderly”.

What are some more specific social issues?

Answer this by thinking about your friends, families, and your own experiences. Think about what works well in your community and what does not. Think of something real, that affects you or the people you know. By choosing something “real” it will be much easier to think of game ideas and features later. For example:

My classmates are having a hard time in Chemistry class, and I want to help them somehow.

My brother wants to ride his bike to school, but there are not enough bike lanes for him.

You can also research national and global social issues, including the following:

  • Physical Disability and Accessibility
  • Healthy Eating & Fitness
  • Water Conservation
  • Pollution
  • Extincting Species
  • Bullying
  • Mass Transit
  • Identity Theft

How can the game be a “Social Good”?

Considering that the social issue is the problem, and the social good is the solution. Then your game just needs to represent that solution. Here are two approaches:

1. The game is a direct solution

This is where your game solves the problem directly. For Example:

A social game where people who car pool create teams, every time they carpool they get points equal to the amount of people in the car.

This solves a few social issues, traffic, pedestrian and cyclist safety.

2. The game is an indirect solution, by simulating the problem and solution

This is where the game models the problem and you play out the solution. For Example:

As you walk the halls of school you or your fellow students may be bullied. You must react quickly to find allies that will stop the bullying and turn bullies into allies.

This models the problem and solution, it teaches the player how to handle the situation, it also raises awareness of the problem, and in-turn contributes to the solution.

In Conclusion

Hopefully the terms and ideas around games for social good are a bit clearer now. In the next post we will cover a brainstorming approach that will help you develop your social good ideas into specific genres of game play.

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