Tech@State will next explore games, the serious games that teach, train and solve problems in ways the real world may not always allow. By bringing parties together in a virtual setting with defined rules and constraints, a serious game can help players understand a complex problem, empathize with an adversary, accomplish an otherwise unwieldy task, or develop a new model for business or governance. Leveraging technology to compartmentalize the chaos of the real world, the gaming experience can helps us grasp puzzles that have remained unsolved for centuries.
We're moving ahead with the Serious Games topic for our next Tech@State, which will be May 27-28 at the Newseum
in Washington, DC. Now, who and what from this vast and fascinating topic to include?
We've had some great opening suggestions already, which we've pasted in below. What can you add to these? Great speakers? Interesting topics? Applications of gaming within the event? How best can we explore the concept of games in the context of diplomacy, development and foreign affairs?
*Comment by Robert Bole on March 4, 2011 at 9:43am
I would suggest that you enlist Kati London of (now) Zynga-NY, formerly called Area/Code games. She does amazing work in both digital/offline/hybrid games. For example, through a Knight Foundation award she and her team created Macon Money that is helping build community engagement in a very diverse, very separated community.
She was also hired by the UK to create an online game to teach - of all things - children to look both ways to cross the road. (Apparently, there is a rising incidence of children being hit as they run out into the road...potential of US TV/film that is conditioning children to "look the wrong way", you be the judge.) The result has been a very popular MMO the Code of Everand, which even after funding was cut, has been supported by the gaming community.
I saw Kati speak at SXSW last year, got to meet her at another gathering and have gotten to know her since then...wonderful presenter, passionate, smart as anything. A good addition for this session.
*Comment by James BonTempo on March 4, 2011 at 12:35pm
For serious games I would recommend Jennifer McNamara @ BreakAway, Ltd. They have a wide range of projects/products in this emerging area (see http://www.breakawaygames.com/serious-games/overview/
). And they're nearby - Hunt Valley, MD.
*Comment by Brian Zhang on March 4, 2011 at 2:43pm
Jane McGonigal! http://janemcgonigal.com/
Her recent games, Urgent Evoke and World Without Oil (http://janemcgonigal.com/play-me/
), have shown the power of removing the risk barrier of and increasing the individual feedback from tackling global issues.
*Comment by Joe B Johnson on March 4, 2011 at 2:52pm
You could have experts yammer about gaming, or you could turn the next Tech@State into an online game,built around a problem in foreign affairs. Something with an outcome from all those clever minds at work.
*Comment by Luke Hohmann on March 6, 2011 at 12:02am
I'm very excited that the topic of Serious/Social Games has risen to the top of your list.
The Innovation Games® Company has been designing and producing games for corporations like Qualcomm, Cisco, Yahoo!, Armstrong Flooring, and Reed Elsevier since 2003. Our success in the private sector has convinced us that our games can make a significant positive impact in the public sector. And they have.
Like many city, state and national governments, the City of San Jose, CA, is facing a significant 2011-2012 budget deficit. On Jan 29th, 2011, history was made when a diverse and highly motivated group of community leaders and engaged citizens from the City of San Jose played a specially designed Innovation Game® to provide feedback regarding their budget priorities to the Mayor’s office.
Our approach has the potential to become a template for igniting a whole new kind of civic engagement through serious games. Because our games are based on proven in-person *and* online game models, they can be used to improve civic engagement in a surprisingly large number of ways.
I would be honored to share our games and how they can be used to dramatically improve statecraft and improve the education, health and welfare of the world's population.
*Comment by Robert J. Popchak on March 6, 2011 at 12:32am
Something along the lines of social and civil reconstruction after a popular revolution - very appropos to the issues raging throughout N Africa and the Middle East.
*Comment by Elena Yatzeck on March 6, 2011 at 1:19am
I would second Luke Hohmann's suggestion that you consider Innovation Games® for your next Tech@State event. These games are extraordinarily helpful for building understanding and consensus. It's not just that they are effective AND fun--they are more effective because they ARE fun.
*Comment by Nicholas Carl Martin on March 9, 2011 at 12:42pm
At TechChange, we recently taught a course at American University on the Applications of Technology for Peacebuilding. We did a unit on video games for change where participants played seven different games and discussed themes like how to responsibly inhabit another's experience, balance game-play with social issues, and incorporate local context into game design. We've done this unit a few times, and I'd be happy to share my experiences with the Tech@State community.
*Comment by Josh Knowles on March 15, 2011 at 5:45pm
I am an independent game developer and designer with an interest in using technology for improving government and politics. I'm actually good friends with Kati London (mentioned above) -- we attended graduate school together and worked together on a couple of projects at Area/Code (now Zynga NY). I would love to participate in a discussion about using game mechanics to improve how government works.
I am also in the process of launching an open citizenship project called GovDecoder: A website aimed at improving the quality of conversation online about and with our government -- using, amongst other things, some well-placed social game mechanics. I would love to get more input from the community, so if anyone's interested -- please, feel free to drop me a note.
*Comment by Andrea Michels 1 day ago
Regarding Joe's comment, a gaming occurrence using a current event as the basis is a great idea. The format of the session could include an introduction to gaming framework and then break up into teams that tackle issues.
*Comment by Tiffany Taylor Attaway 1 hour ago
In regards to gaming, the Foreign Service Institute held a one-day roundtable on gaming and learning in December. It was held at our campus in Arlington, and we had 6 speakers, 4 of whom are from the video game industry. Videos of each speaker and the slides for many of the presentations are located here: http://www.casl.umd.edu/Presentations_GameChangers
at the website of CASL/UMD who co-sponsored the event with us. I was on the team that helped plan the event, so if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.