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The video game’s powers of persuasion

by David Spring | 19.09.2012
This week, Time Magazine published its annual list of 50 Best Websites. Here it is for your pleasure!

I was quick to go through the list and find anything interesting, and sure enough, some of these sites will become our latest object of addiction soon. Even though the list reflects an essentially North-American perspective, one particular website did catch my attention: Persuasive Games.

The founder of the website, Ian Bogost, Ph.D, is a professor at Georgia Tech, and games theorist. He has written several books on the power of video games as an expressive and persuasive medium, in recent years. In his 2007 publication, Persuasive Games, he argued that video games, due to their interactivity and simulation of various situations, have an enormous potential to educate players on a wide range of issues. The web-based games he helped to create for the website, therefore, are an embodiment of the ideas from his book. Some games have been designed for advertisers, others for educational bodies, or even public policy makers.

One game, entitled Killer Flu, replicates the layout of popular strategy games such as Age of Empires and Sims, but aims to educate about how pandemic flu spread and mutate, while another game, Airport Insecurity, forces the player to raise questions about how enforced protection post-9/11 can still undermine security systems in airports. Evidently, these ‘persuasive games’ deal specifically with current topical issues, but it will be interesting to see how web-based video games can gradually develop a power to change public perceptions on wider social issues.