Board games that teach cooperation, not competition.
Twitter  20 September 2013 | LINK | Filed in
It's amazing how many children's books and games are about capturing or being captured.
Twitter  19 October 2012 | LINK | Filed in ,
Phone Story. phone_story.png Phone Story is a video game for iPhone critical of human rights violations on Apple’s iPhone supply chain. Each level in the game explores a different real-life problem in the consumer electronics life cycle. To win, players must enslave children in Congolese Coltan mines, catch suicidal workers jumping out of Chinese assembly plant windows, and conscript the poorest of the world's poor to dismantle toxic e-waste resulting from obsolete iPhones.

The game is available now for $0.99 in the App Store. Apple has removed the app from the store.
>  13 September 2011 | LINK | Filed in , , ,



From an article on Brenda Brathwaite and her game design:

“[Train] unfolds atop a shattered window. Three model train tracks run diagonally across the broken glass. Game pieces include two stacks of cards, a black typewriter holding the rules, 60 yellow wooden pawns, and six gray model boxcars.

Each turn, players can roll a die and choose to advance their boxcar or load it with pawns; alternatively, they can use a card to speed or slow a boxcar’s progress. Brathwaite’s goal, she says, was to make a game about complicity.…

At that point, Train had not formally revealed its subject, and Jon and the others played as though it were a normal board game, trying to outrace each other. When Rob was the first to move a boxcar to the end of the line, he followed the rules and drew a Terminus card. Train’s theme was no longer hidden. The card said ‘Dachau.’

Train is the third title in a series of six non-digital games she calls ‘The Mechanic Is The Message.’ The series was sprung one afternoon in 2007, when her daughter Maezza followed a thoughtless rehash of the day’s school lesson about the Middle Passage by asking to play a game. Brathwaite invented a game on the spot. She had Maezza spend half an hour painting wooden pawns and grouping them into families. Brathwaite then scooped the pawns at random, placed them on an index card, and explained the rules: You have 10 turns to cross the ocean and 30 units of food; each turn you must roll the die and use that much food. After a series of high rolls, Maezza looked to her mother: ‘Mommy, we’re not going to make it.’

[Brathwaite] decided to make games about five more ‘difficult’ subjects: Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland, the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, illegal immigration, and Haitian poverty. Her goal was more than ‘blast-the-Nazis fun.’ ‘I wanted to do a design exercise to see if you could use game mechanics to express difficult subjects,’ Braithwaite says. ‘Every single atrocity, every single migration of people—there was a system behind it. If you can find that system, you can make a game about it. All games are, is systems.’”

>  1 March 2011 | LINK | Filed in
Tenants Rights Cards. tenant-flashcards.jpgCandy Chang designed this set of flash cards on tenants’ rights with the grassroots organization Tenants & Neighbors and published the deck with a grant from Sappi. The set of thirty cards translates New York State’s official Tenants Rights Guide document into fun, digestible topic briefs on issues like security deposits, subletting, privacy and discrimination. Timely, too.

(Previously: pedagogical playing cards.)
>  3 November 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,
50 Serious Games for Social Change. lu.pngComputer games designed to teach about social issues like public health, the environment, human rights and poverty. A very mixed bag here, but an interesting, emerging space to watch. (via)
>  23 October 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is the fusion of real and virtual reality, usually projecting computer graphics over live video footage in real time. The excellent Osocio blog recently posted two advocacy projects that use augmented reality for outreach.

The first is a cellphone game that shows an animated, virtual bear colliding, falling and otherwise bumbling around the physical environment as viewed through the phone’s camera. The application is part of a campaign on biodiversity by the World Wildlife Foundation in China. The message: forests are fast disappearing, see how wildlife struggles to cope outside its habitat, the fate of wildlife is in your hand.

The other campaign creates a virtual minefield at a shopping mall in Norway to dramatize the importance of mine clearance. Pedestrians pass by a mannequin in UN de-mining gear warning that they are entering a mined area. A computer linked up to an infrared camera detects pedestrian traffic and when a special spot is crossed, speakers hit the pedestrian with the sound of an explosion. Text is then projected onto the floor in front of the pedestrian describing the impact of landmines and soliciting a donation via SMS.

However, the spots on the floor are not entirely random. Via a web site, users are put in the role of the de-mining team. Web users can see the spots of the “mines” projected onto a video of the mall. Users must click the mines to remove them before pedestrians encounter them. If they fail, web users also hear the explosion and watch the pedestrians react.

Together they raise an interesting, larger point: just how much of a visualization project non-profit advocacy and outreach itself really is. I’ve written previously about the importance of the vision thing, but I focused more on individual projects instead of the idea of advocacy generally. In many cases, it boils down to this: advocacy means making visible to an audience some aspect of reality that is off their radar or articulating some hidden reason why things are the way they are... then following up with a proposed solution. That is, projecting an augmented reality followed by a vision a different world — an alternate reality colliding with the existing one. The trick is to make these visions clear, compelling, and actionable.

>  16 May 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Commodify Your Dissent, 3. ShoeScrew the Flash game, since a pair was hurled at President George W. Bush the Model 271 shoe is flying off the shelf. “Baydan Ayakkabicilik San. & Tic. has received orders for 300,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, more than four times the number his company sold each year since the model was introduced in 1999.... ‘Model 271’ is exported to markets including Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt. Customers in Iraq ordered 120,000 pairs this week and some Iraqis offered to set up distribution companies for the shoe, Baydan said.” More on The NY Times.
>  20 December 2008 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Workers of the World Play Ball

The International Institute of Social History in The Netherlands has a brief text, a few posters, and a couple of photos from the Labour Olympiads, an counterevent to the Olympics between World War I and II:

Labour Olympiad“In the twenties, the Olympic games got their counterpart within the labour movement. Labour Olympiads took place in Frankfurt, Vienna and Antwerp. Workers played soccer, practised gymnastics and ran for world peace instead of the national honour.

As a result of the struggle for the 8 hour working day, workers had time for sport. Already in the beginning of the 20th century workers participated in games with comrades in neighbouring countries. Massive labour sport unions were founded in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and France. They strove to educate workers both physically and spiritually.

The Labour Olympiads, organised by the Socialist Workers’ Sport International (SASI), fit well with these ideals. Against the normal Olympic games, marked as ‘a war between nations gained by sportive means’, stood the solidarity of comrades in sport. The labour sport unions disapproved of idols and records. At the labour games the anthem of the socialist international replaced the national anthem of the winning country. And only the red flag flew. Participation was more important than winning.”

See A Dozen Pictures of the Labour Olympiads.

>  15 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,