“Activate demonstrates how social change happens because of motivated individuals. Volunteer for an issue that affects you by holding a bake sale or writing to Congress. Directly affect your community by helping out at the animal shelter and convincing others to help you on your mission. If your movement grows large enough, you just might change the world!”
INFO: Online, free
“Human rights are in peril, democracy in the dust. You: an agent of the Council on American Heritage, sent to capture mysterious fugitive Ken Asaba—and into high-risk situations that challenge you to ask: What if? How close are we already to America 2049? How can we work together in real life to build a better future? America 2049 is a new breed of Facebook game, reaching beyond the world’s most popular social network to include other social media, fictional websites, historical artifacts, real-life events, and Hollywood celebrities. Change the future—play today.”
INFO: Online (only with Facebook account), free
“Ars Regendi is a browser-based political game that lets you take the reigns of your own, realistically simulated state. You will be asked to weigh in on various matters of state and - faced with a number of choices - any decision you make will have ramifications for the well-being of your virtual populace! In addition, you will be able to form alliances with other countries, initiate reforms and adjust the budget.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Responsable: Redmaze Marc Böttenberg
INFO: Browser-based, online, basic version for free
“Bordergames es un proyecto de arte colaborativo que se basa en una red de trabajo construida a partir de una serie de talleres, un editor y motor de videojuegos libres y gratuitos diseñados con código abierto, que permiten a jóvenes construir , colectivamente un videojuego a partir de su experiencia inmediata con el entorno donde viven. El videoguego plantea la intensificación y negociación de las fronteras, tanto físicas, como simbólicas, culturales, de género, de clase social, etnia, identidad cultural, etc… El objetivo del juego es trabajar en red las múltiples fronteras de la vida diaria de las ciudades y otros entornos a través de una herramienta de trabajo cercana y atractiva a las jóvenes actuales como son los videojuegos.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: La Fiambrera Obrera (Spain)
INFO: Visual Basic 2++ open source editor, free
“Players engage in the law making process from the perspective of all three branches of government. As the President, they set the agenda and sign and veto laws. As the congress, they gather support and try to pass legislation that complies with their values, and as the Supreme Court, they evaluate laws for their constitutionality.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Filament Games
INFO: Online, free
“Modeled after data from CSIRO Division of Land and Water and e-water Co-operative Research Centre, Catchment Detox challenges players by putting them in charge of a catchment, a body of land that collects and revitalizes adjacent riverbeds, over a 100 year span. Throughout gameplay, you must manage various aspects of your catchment while focusing on a few key areas.
Catchment Detox allows players to see the impact on not only what they build, but where they build and how their decisions can affect water quality, habitat, and citizen well-being. Players must manage a wide array of parameters to make sure each decision is the right one both economically and environmentally. Each action affects your score and your environment’s water levels. After 100 turns, players have the opportunity to see how their decisions affected their catchment’s health and the wealth of their city. A scoreboard keeps players involved by showing them other players’ top scores and maps of their final catchment’s set up.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Moon Communications Group
INFO: Online, free
“In Commons, compete to do good, while problems in your city get fixed. Report a problem or recommend an improvement in your neighborhood that you think deserves attention and resources, and show your city some lovin’. Vote on the best reports and improvements, and see what’s most popular in the hood. Go on short missions around town to earn bonus points, and unlock City awards to level up through the game. With Commons, share the things that you care most about fixing and improving in your neighborhood, and discover new ways to explore your city.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Suzanne Kirkpatrick, Nien Lam, Jamie Lin
INFO: iPhone, free
“The Toolkit is a set of resources that supports face-to-face training for residents and community leaders. The computer-based component (the “Organizing Game”) is used to introduce concepts, prompt discussion, and allow residents to practice skills in a safe, non-threatening environment. The initial focus of the Toolkit is teaching Doorknocking, an organizing technique that’s particularly effective in moving issues within a local community.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Project manager: CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. Design and development: Kinection. Organizing content and expertise:The Center for Third World Organizing. Funds: The Waitt Family Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the Community Technology Foundation
INFO: Online, free
“The Conspiracy for Good is the pilot project for a first-of-its-kind, interactive story, that empowers its audience to take real-life action and create positive change in the world. Call it Social Benefit Storytelling.
As part of the Conspiracy For Good you will join a collective of thinkers, artists, musicians and causes, creating a unified voice to fight the forces of social and environmental injustice. Together CFG can follow the story and discuss the dreams, hopes and ambitions, all while building a community that focuses on changing the world for the better, one person and one action at a time.
In conjunction with Nokia, this is an entirely new, experimental sandbox in which to play.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Nokia/Tim Kring
INFO: For mobiles and other media
“Cultivation is a game about a community of gardeners growing food for themselves in a shared space. Cultivation is quite different from most other games. It is a social simulation, and the primary form of conflict is over land and plant resources—-there is no shooting, but there are plenty of angry looks. It is also an evolution simulation. Within the world of Cultivation, you can explore a virtually infinite spectrum of different plant and gardener varieties.
All of the graphics, sounds, melodies, and other content in Cultivation are 100% procedurally generated at playtime. In other words, there are no hand-painted texture maps—-instead, each object has a uniquely “grown” appearance. Every time you play, Cultivation generates fresh visuals, music, and behaviors.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Jason Rohrer
INFO: Online, free
“Democracy 2 is the ultimate political strategy / simulation game. The game simulates the motivations, loyalties and desires of everyone in the country. As president or prime minister, it’s your job to balance the need for income from taxes against the demands of the voters. Do you want your country to be an eco-friendly green paradise? or a capitalist utopia? Will you pander to the patriots, the liberals or the religious pressure groups? Can you keep crime under control without destroying the civil liberties of your citizens? And can you keep good diplomatic relations with other nation states? This popular pc strategy game is easy to pick up. An innovative user-interface shows the relationships between everything in the game just by hovering your mouse over an object. The game is ‘turn based’, so it’s the ideal game for those who prefer an intelligent, thoughtful game.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Positech Games
INFO: Free trial version. 22.95 Us dollars
“America gives participants an opportunity to explore global perceptions of America within the context of “distributive justice,” a concept borrowed from the fields of economics and philosophy that concerns the ways in which a society forms a consensus on the just distribution of wealth. The Internet-based game focuses specifically on views of America and is accessible on the computers in the center of the exhibition room or online from anywhere in the world. As they play the game, participants create and juxtapose two views of America: that of Americans and that of non-Americans.
While earlier manifestations of Distributive Justice have focused specifically on economic and ethical questions pertaining to the just distribution of wealth, Distributive Justice: America is concerned with practical rather than theoretical issues. “It is,” says Kuluncic, “primarily focused on day-to-day events and actions (or non-actions) including short-term and long-term consequences.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Andreja Kuluncic
INFO: Online, free
“The first in a series of newsgames called The Arcade Wire, Airport Security offers a satirical critique of airport security practices circa early fall 2006, when security agencies in the US and abroad changed their policies to prohibit common items like toothpaste and hair gel. Do knee-jerk reactions that limit our freedom of expression and travel make us safer? In The Arcade Wire: Airport Security you inspect each passenger and his luggage and remove the forbidden items before allowing the passenger to go through—but the list of forbidden items changes on a moment-to-moment basis. Prohibited items may include pants, mouthwash, and hummus.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Persuasive Games
“The Redistricting Game is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest.
By exploring how the system works, as well as how open it is to abuse, The Redistricting Game allows players to experience the realities of one of the most important (yet least understood) aspects of our political system. The game provides a basic introduction to the redistricting system, allows players to explore the ways in which abuses can undermine the system, and provides info about reform initiatives – including a playable version of the Tanner Reform bill to demonstrate the ways that the system might be made more consistent with tenets of good governance. Beyond playing the game, the web site for The Redistricting Game provides a wealth of information about redistricting in every state as well as providing hands-on opportunities for civic engagement and political action.
The developers of the game coordinated efforts with leading redistricting reform groups including FairVote.org, League of Women Voters, and the Campaign Legal Center.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: USC Game Innovation Lab
INFO: Online, free
“WeTopia, created by Sojo Studios, is an online, Facebook game that allows players to connect with friends, build their virtual city, and spend a unique form of currency called “Joy” that spreads real-world aid to various non-profits around the world.
Sojo Studios, a new social enterprise founded by Lincoln Brown, created WeTopia as a way to get everyday people involved with and enjoying acts of philanthropy. A hand-selected team of veteran developers was chosen to lead this ambitious new studio. Along with them are brand partners like Mattel and Clorox, as well as 12 carefully chosen non-profits such as Save the Children, buildOn, and more. The game also launched with substantial media support by the daytime talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres.
Like many other city building games, WeTopia challenges players to start a brand new community from scratch and build a thriving population and economic system. As players collect money from residents which in turn buys crops that creates goods for shops, players also accumulate “Joy” through acts of good nature. Joy is a form of currency that is used in-game by the player to affect real world causes. Players choose which campaigns their Joy is shared with, and as a cause receives 100% Joy from players, Sojo Studios shares revenue gained through their advertising partners and in-game purchases with those campaigns, allowing them to become a reality.”
DEVELOPER/DESIGNER: Sojo Studios
INFO: Online through Facebook, free.