All Alternate Reality Games can be said to have educational value, since they all encourage reasoning, problem-solving, communication, exploration, and so on. But designers have also been developing games with the specific purpose of promoting personal development, learning, and training, and the possibilities have only just begun to be explored in this budding field of learning design. For instance, Simon Brookes, an instructor at the Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise, has developed a compelling case for the power of Alternate Reality Games to teach entrepreneurship, making the point that “entrepreneurial learning is enhanced when learners are immersed in authentic or near-real experiences…are able to reflect on these experiences…[and] are allowed to imitate, experiment (play) in a safe (low-risk) environment,” conditions which Alternate Reality Games naturally foster.
And educational games have extended far beyond school confines and curricula. Here are three innovative games designed for the public that have demonstrated the radical educational potential of Alternate Reality Games:
WWO invited people from all walks of life to contribute “collective imagination” to confront a real-world issue: the risk our unbridled thirst for oil poses to our economy, climate and quality of life. It’s a milestone in the quest to use games as democratic, collaborative platforms for exploring possible futures and sparking future-changing action… WORLD WITHOUT OIL simulated the first 32 weeks of a global oil crisis. It established a citizen “nerve center” to track events and share solutions. Anybody could play by creating a personal story – an email or phone call, or for advanced users a blog post, video, photo, podcast, twitter, whatever – that chronicled the imagined reality of their life in the crisis.…
When WWO concluded on June 1, 2007, its detailed vision of a possible future, expressed in 1,500 personal chronicles posted across the Web, had immersed 68,000 viewers (over 110,000 by year end)
No one today has a clear picture of oil availability or what will happen when demand inevitably outstrips supply. That will largely depend on how well people prepare, cooperate, and collectively create solutions, and before WWO, no one had ever thought to ask them what they might do.
By playing it out ‘for real’, WWO evoked collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds in advance. Players worked together to gain grassroots insights into the forces that will rule at street level in a crisis. Their solutions – acts that mold communities, slash wasteful consumption and create more “elastic” lives – stand as vibrant antidotes to official paralysis.
WWO didn’t only “raise awareness” about oil dependence. By creating a simple nonpartisan framework that focused thousands of people from all walks of life upon this common issue, WWO sparked peer learning and inquiry-based exploration of the roots, outcomes, and prevention of an oil crisis. By “rousing our democratic imagination,” WWO fostered deep engagement and changed people’s lives. Via a game, players made themselves better citizens.
Find the Future:
Find The Future at NYPL brings visitors to the Library together with players around the world to tap into the creative power of the Library’s collections.
It is the first game in the world in which winning the game means writing a book together — a collection of 100 ways to make history and change the future, inspired by 100 of the most intriguing works of the past.
Starting May 21, 2011, visitors to the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch of the NYPL can play the game with their personal smartphones or on Library computers. Global players will join the game with any computer that has access to the Internet. The game is free to play.
The game is designed to empower players to find inspiration for their own extraordinary futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and personal objects of people who made an extraordinary difference in the past.
The game starts with a special, invitation-only event on May 20, 2011. As part of the Centennial celebration weekend, hundreds of gamers will earn the chance to join a special once-in-a-lifetime event: an “overnight lock-in” at NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building. This “write all night” lock in will serve as the official kick-off for the Find The Future game.
EVOKE is a ten-week crash course in changing the world. The goal of the social network game is to help empower people all over the world to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems. The game’s first season began on March 3, 2010 and ended on May 12th, 2010.
All three of these examples were developed with the ingenuity and expertise of game designer and theorist Jane McGonigal, who has visions about the future of gaming that would have made Johan Huizinga proud. Innovative companies like SCVNGR and Will Wright’s new Hive Mind represent the next step toward realizing the dream of Huizinga and McGonigal: the gamification of everyday life.