Information Sharing, Advocacy, Games
I learned about the source of my inspiration through an old-fashioned paper hand-out with an assignment that one of my daughters had to complete over this past winter break. The assignment was to see the exhibit Design with the Other 90%:CITIES, draw a picture about one of the projects represented and write about it. The exhibit, curated by the the Smithsonian Cooper- Hewitt National Design Museum, was on view at the U.N. Headquarters until January 9th. It featured “sixty projects, proposals, and solutions that address the complex issues arising from the unprecedented rise of informal settlements in emerging and developing economies .” Pretty lofty, I’d say. I wanted to learn more!
I did a little perfunctory research via Google. Nearly all of the links returned at the top of the list were directly to the website for the exhibit. One link went to a page on the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s website. It was on this page that I found out that the exhibit emerged from Design for the Other 90%, a similar Cooper-Hewitt exhibit from 2007 that featured affordable and socially responsible objects. There were a smattering of links to reviews on blogs. Way down the list was a link to a review on The Atlantic Cities. Appropriate. What about a review of the exhibit in the NY Times, I wondered. Not seeing a link in the search results, I went directly to its site and found an excellent review by Michael Kimmelman.
But, doesn’t the subject justify more than reviews of the exhibit? There is bona fide substance here, something that should get more visibility and support for the cause. So, how can those of us who believe that this issue warrants more public awareness do something about it?
Since I believe Jane McGonigal’s message, “Gaming can make a better world,” I look to games as a form of advocacy. (Has the term games-based advocacy been used yet?) So, I was happy to see that there are two games related to the exhibit. One, Future City Game, developed by British Council, Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and URBIS- Manchester’s Centre for Urban Life, is team-based design process that brings local residents and people from the public and private sectors together for two days to share their vision for the cities’ future. These players vote on urban planning and development ideas and present them to local stakeholders, professionals and residents. Forms of this game have been played in over one hundred cities since it was piloted in 2006!
The other is a series of games backed by the social initiative, Freedom HIV/AIDS. The Freedom HIV/AIDS games, played on mobile phones, were originally designed to educate India’s rural and semi-literate populations about the disease. When a player passes a level or answers a question correctly, informative texts are displayed on the screen. The games have been replicated in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
These games have been effective in both getting the public involved and in educating. You can head over to Games for Change to see more social and civic-minded games. Still, we need for these types of games to be massively multiplayer. Maybe more celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres can sing their praises, as she did for WeTopia. Come on folks, Let’s bring on the games!
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