Author: Jennifer Watson
Move over, Twitter and Facebook. There’s another—potentially more powerful—social media tool in town.
As Anne Derryberry, the mind behind an industry-leading blog on gaming and communications campaigns, writes, “serious organizations are getting serious results with serious games.”
Online games are increasingly being used by organizations as diverse as the U.S. Army, Chevron and U.S. Supreme Court to engage players in public policy debates, encourage behavior change, or raise awareness and money for charitable causes. The growth of “serious gaming” has produced some fun, sophisticated and free online offerings. The power of the games is that they teach without being dull and confront players with decisions and results. Players are by definition active, which means they’re paying attention and testing their knowledge and understanding as they go.
The Internet offers a huge array of games to try. Here are a few noteworthy games, but don’t stop after one round. Pick one to play repeatedly and observe how your awareness and behavior changes over time. Then, consider whether serious gaming might help your organization engage key audiences in a new way.
America’s Army 3. Created by the U.S. Army, this site gives players a realistic look at the challenges, decisions and stresses that soldiers face in combat. The Army uses this fast-paced, graphically sophisticated site as both a training and recruiting tool.
Energyville. Chevron and The Economist have jointly created a game that puts users in charge of managing the energy needs of a city. The free online game—called Energyville—encourages players to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of each type of energy and how their use affects our economy and environment.
Free Rice. A father helping his child prepare for college entrance exams created this vocabulary-building game, which also raises money to fight world hunger. For every answer you get right, sponsors will donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Hunger Relief Fund. Called Free Rice, the game escalates in difficulty as your knowledge increases. (Please note: On some systems, you’ll need to download a toolbar in order to play.)
The Traffic Quiz. How many miles and minutes do you log on U.S. highways each year? Your time in the car may be among the most dangerous you spend, so the New York Times has created an online Traffic Quiz to help raise drivers’ awareness about what’s really happening on the road.
The Bailout Game. Critics of the recent financial bailouts abound, but this game poses a challenging question: Could you have done better? The Bailout Game teaches players about the financial system while also giving them a sense of how difficult it is to manage a national (or global) economy.
Financial Soccer. Appropriate for adults and children, this online game sponsored by Visa tests your financial management skills as part of a fast-paced video game called Financial Soccer.
What others have you seen?