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meaningful play 2008 travel

Session Information

TitleMaking an Impact: Serious Issues in Non-Serious Games
Presenter(s)Monica EvansMonica Evans is an Assistant Professor of Computer Game Design at the University of Texas at Dallas. She received her Ph.D. from the Arts and Technology program at UTD in 2007 and has served as a writer and designer on experimental and educational game projects with numerous university partners, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Alcatel, Samsung, U.S. Army Training Doctrine and Command (TRADOC), and Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). She is a member of both the Mobile Innovation Lab and the Virtual Worlds Lab at UTD. Currently she teaches courses in game design, serious games and simulation, and interactive narrative structure, and coordinates both the ATEC Game Production Lab and the UT Dallas Computer Gaming Entrepreneurship Competition, sponsored by Hughes Ventures.
TimeFriday, October 10, 1:00p-2:00p
DescriptionFrom September 12th to Hush, PeaceMaker to Dying for Darfur, serious games are tackling some of the biggest issues facing societies across the globe. But how can these games reach a population that is currently playing Bioshock, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Spore?

While the hard-core or even casual gaming population isn't necessarily the key target for serious games, these developers still have a difficulty: that their games may reach only those who are already aware of the issue and agree with the message of the game - in effect, they may be preaching to the choir.

Serious issues aren't the sole responsibility of serious games. Many games that are marketed solely as entertainment contain a great deal of social or political commentary, educational benefit, or the higher humanitarian ideals we expect from the "serious" development community. Looking at titles like Sim City Societies, Beyond Good and Evil, and the Ratchet and Clank series, we can begin to see how some game developers are subverting entertainment, focusing on meaningful issues within what seems to be fun and simple content. But how effective are these games when compared to their serious counterparts? How do we measure whether their messages are reaching the population at large, or are lost within the simple, "play for fun" attitude that most people bring to commercial games?

This talk will address some of the serious issues covered in commercial games, the methods by which "subvertainment" can present both a clear message and a compelling game, and how serious and non-serious game developers can benefit from each other in presenting meaningful ideals with the computer gaming medium.

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