One great strength of using games as an education tool is their ability to let experiences be shared. A major part of social good is being able to empathize with another person's experience. This can help people from all walks of life understand and support others.
Games are unique in this function because their interactivity creates identification with the presented experience. While a novel or a film can lead a person through someone else's perspective, it is not "claimed" in the same way that a game's story can be. Our design of games for education should not just focus on giving lessons, but on sharing experiences to effect an emotional connection as well as an intellectual one.
The term for such games is "empathy engine," and it has been successful in both digital and non-digital contexts. Notable digital games include Papers, Please, Cart Life, and Depression Quest. Notable non-digital games include Dog Eat Dog and Privilege: The Game of Economic Inequality.
If we are truly concerned with acting as agents of positive social change, we must not just engage those people who are looking to empathize. We must design games that actively promote and create empathy, to allow shared societal concerns to cross over barriers. By creating empathy engines, we can give a voice to the voiceless and a friend to the friendless.
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