I am not a "gamer". Not. At. All. The amount of time I have spent playing any kind of video or digital game is probably under 100 hours in my entire life. The amount of time I have spent trying to get my kids off of digital/video games and reading a book may be in the tens of hundreds. I am not comfortable with video games. So it's just my luck that I was asked by my IT teacher to learn to play Minecraft (I kinda liked it, and I understand why people love it) and to explore 2 games on Gamesforchange.org. Much eye rolling and groaning ensued.
Until I read the mission statement of Games for Change:
"Catalyzing Social Impact Through Digital Games"
Ok, that is pretty cool. I sifted through the games until I found some free ones to play. Here are my thoughts:
I played Disaster Detector, and after I got over myself, had a pretty good time. The initial music is a little annoying, but thankfully, it went away at some point. I used the tutorial to get started. There is a lot to learn! Different weather instruments, how they give clues to the weather, and how a city manager prepares for disaster, given the constraint of money and time. This game would be great for elementary/middle schoolers. The challenge level is not very high. I enjoyed trying to figure out which disaster would come next, but I would not say that it is immersive.
Navigation is clear, visuals, including text are clear and easy to understand. Feedback is timely- you know how the city feels about you whenever you take any action. There are about 5 cities to choose from that you can be the city manager. Disasters range from tornados to flooding to earthquakes. I learned how to play the game, and got a refresher on meteorology. I am not sure I will play it again.
My conclusion? We need to raise taxes!!!
The second game I played was called Choosing My Way. After downloading Adobe Air (more eye-rolling), I was ready to go. Choosing My Way offers different choices to the player, as if he or she were a refugee/immigrant/new to this country. It gives different points for the choices you make, and you can get points for doing the right thing in different situations. The resources include expected things like money and time, but also include patience and support from others. I like how this game makes you consider the best steps to take as you adjust to a new country. The player must be able to read some English, but this game can be played by any skill level.
The game is not immersive- you are constantly trying to figure out what you want to do next and calculating how many resources you have versus how many you need. I focused on learning English, and then getting a job. I was not sure I was on the right track, as I only got feedback at the end. Navigation is fairly clear, although the instructions are a YouTube video which I didn't watch. I was able to figure out how to play anyway, so it is not too difficult. Visually, it is a little boring. It uses symbols to represent resources, and plays calming music throughout.
My conclusion? It's good to help middle or high school students realize how difficult it is to arrive here as an immigrant. Or even to prepare themselves for the real world.
Overall conclusion? I'm still not a gamer.
Pierre a dit, watercolor and ink on Yupo, 8" x 11", J de Mello e Souza, all rights reserved.
I am an artist and teacher, living in the Pacific Northwest. My teaching is heavily based in Art History and Science. I have a certificate in Scientific Illustration. I love nature, hiking, sailing (as long as I am not in charge), my family, and my border collie.