Seriously Fun Games to Change the World
2014/12/09
By : Online University
Using games for purposes other than entertainment is nothing new. There are war games, educational games, throne games. But a new class of games has sprung up in recent years, designed to create awareness and raise support for a variety of global issues. Such serious games seek to harness the power of competition and/or novelty to attract players and get the word out for a good cause. Here are 15 games you can play and be a better person for it.

Catalysts for Change: On April 3, 2012, Catalysts for Change went live online for 48 hours. The goal of the game is to inspire people from all over the globe to come together and share ideas about easing the poverty that over 1 billion people live in. The game involves playing cards with words like "momentum" or "adaptation" on them to spark possible poverty solution ideas. When players build on your card (idea), you earn points.

Spent: Designed by Urban Ministries of Durham, a faith-based provider of food and shelter for North Carolinians in need, Spent asks players to consider what life would be like as a homeless person. The game puts you in the shoes of someone who has lost their life savings, and has you choose one of three low-paying jobs to see for yourself how quickly your money runs out.

World Without Oil: If you've ever wondered what life would look like without crude oil, this game was for you. With the tagline "play it before you live it," WWO simulated the first eight months of a world oil crisis. The game ended on June 1, 2007, after 1,500 players had sent in fictional "personal accounts" of their life during the crisis, which were viewed by 110,000 people. Players also worked together to develop solutions that still provide insight into potential real-life answers for the future.

3rd World Farmer: This game was originally created by students at the IT-University in Copenhagen in 2005. The player is put in control of an African farm and must struggle to keep family, crops, and livestock alive while conflict and a lack of resources work against them. The designers' hope is that people will play and realize how precarious survival is for many in Africa, and then do what they can to improve the lives of poor people there.

Free Rice: The United Nations World Food Program operates this game, which seeks to educate the public while addressing the problem of world hunger by offering rice to hungry people free of charge. Players simply go to the website, pick a subject like world capitals or English grammar, and then start answering questions. For each correct answer, the program donates 10 grains of rice to someone in need.

September 12th: A Toy World: The rules are simple: you can choose to shoot rockets at terrorists, or not. But be warned, missing civilians is virtually impossible. The purpose of this newsgame is to visually prove that the U.S. War on Terror is destined to failure, as every civilian killed results in dozens of terrorists created. It has been shown all over the world as a teaching tool against violence.

Citizen Science: Back to the Future meets the EPA in this game, where players travel back in time to investigate what led to the local lake's pollution and what they can do to prevent it in the future. Developed by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the University of Wisconsin, the game is meant to illustrate the social factors that contribute to environmental harm.

Garbage Dreams: Cairo's Zaballeen people may have the answer to the world's trash problem. They recycle 80% of their trash (Zaballeen means "garbage people" in Arabic). Now you can test your mettle and see if you too can be as enterprising as they are. You have one goat, one factory, and 8 months to build a recycling system for the city. Can you make it happen?
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