One reason Gotham Gazette has long been intrigued by the idea of so-called serious games is that they offer another way to tell a story. And the more methods one uses to tell a story, the more people will read (or hear, or watch, or play) that story.
As a site on NYC policy and politics, it’s been our mission from the beginning to try to attract people beyond the base of Wonks and City Hall habitues (no offense intended; they are, after all, a loyal and helpful audience). To do that, we try to tell present complicated issues in a clear way, eschewing jargon and acronyms and trying, when possible, to inject a little humor and humunaity into stories about the building code, sustainability and crumbling infrastructure.
With the games, we hope to take that one step further, providing people a chance to put themselves in the shoes of policymakers, thinking and clicking their way through a game that — while we don’t expect to rival Halo — will be fun, attractive and provide important information about our city. In a several weeks, we’ll try it out on some teenagers.I’ll let you know what they think.
I think one of the biggest appeals to the games you are proposing is not necessarily the game itself (although that’s important too!) but the data and potential for “Group understanding” that playing will facilitate. For instance, while I might find that putting digital bananna peels into digital trash cans is a little less than thrilling, knowing that my choices are being logged and combined with the choices of others — i.e. knowing that there are statistics being kept that might reveal more about my community — is something I would find incredibly interesting. In fact, I would say that displaying those kind of “result numbers” in an engaging way is almost as important as the stories being told in your games.
I’m looking forward to watching this grow!