Game thinking from Adam Clare

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Be Interested In More Than Just Games

Teaching in a game design school it’s not rare to find students who only care about games. I make sure to tell these students that the most important thing to do is to care about something outside of the world of games. Most look at me confused. We’re at a game design school after all.

Without exception, the students who have interests outside of games are the ones who make the neatest projects and tend to have the most success after graduation. The topic of the interests don’t matter so much as that they exist.

Over at Vox there’s an article titled Buzzfeed’s founder used to write Marxist theory and it explains Buzzfeed perfectly. The article lives up to the title, it’s a good read and shows that being interested in fields outside of your primary one is a worthwhile venture.

You never know where a path of inquiry will lead.

So where did Peretti get that idea? Peretti’s academic writings offer one clue. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 1996, Peretti published an article in the cultural theory journal Negations entitled “Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution.” After the paper was mentioned in New York’s Peretti profile,’s Eugene Wolters read through it, and found that it more or less lays out (and critiques) Buzzfeed’s entire business model—a full decade before the company was founded.

Study Marx and start a million dollar website.

There are other ways that a variety of interests can manifest themselves. Maybe you love games and you also love space, or orbital mechanics. Then you get Kerbal Space Program.


And who knows, maybe combining two fields you love will eventually get you to work with NASA.

The success of the game hadn’t gone unnoticed. In March 2013, Squad received an intriguing tweet: “Interested in exploring an asteroid with us?” It was from Nasa, and after a year of cooperation, the Kerbal team was able to implement the real-life Asteroid Redirect Mission into its game. Players can now experiment with a genuine space programme, using Nasa rocket parts. “It’s been a truly amazing experience,” says Falanghe. “When we first started, we had very little help from experts, save what we could research on our own. For us, it was a great learning experience – none of us in the team have any formal background in aerospace or any related field.”

Space or Marx may not be your thing, perhaps running is. There are tons of “gamified” services and apps out there that encourage you to be fit, but what about an app that makes you run to defend your territory? It exists: Run an Empire. From an article about the game:

The beauty of Run An Empire is that the game requires a balance between maintaining the security of a home base while also compelling players to attempt to intrude and capture other players’ territories by running further and longer, making the habit of running less a task and more of a mission-based activity.

In the process neighborhood blocks become kingdoms, daily walks or runs become battles, and an element of strategic planning absent from typical running programs can make each mile felt earned, not endured.

So if you find yourself thinking about only games I encourage you to explore the rest of the world. Get out and explore the world around as reality is the game and games aren’t the only thing that matter in reality.

Collection of Propaganda Games Part 1

Propaganda is about changing public opinion on something for political or other motives and many games aim to that very thing. In my opinion both advertising games and educational games aim to change the way people think and can therefore be lumped together under propaganda games.

Like many things in the world of games Hollywood have already tackled with putting propaganda in their entertainment properties, the most blatant and perhaps comical example of this comes from Wayne’s World:

Games don’t tend to be that blunt or honest, or get nearly as much money for tossing in such blatant advertising. Still, we can look at what;s out there in the world of games.

Here’s a fairly random selection of games that lean to the educational side but can also be considered propaganda because of the message they carry.

Super Tofu Boy by PETA

Moonbase Alpha by NASA (article on the game).

Real Lives allows you to simulate what it’s like to live anywhere on the planet.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s games to help kids understand citizenship.

Save the Silly Earthlings from their climate change.

Phylo a trading card game inspired by Pokemon, instead it’s abut real animals.

Sweatshop a game about the horrible working conditions that too many people on the planet suffer through in order for cheap products to exist.

Mayor Munch is a game about the most pathetic mayoral race in Toronto’s history (article in the Toronto Star).

Urgent Evoke an interactive story about saving the world.

World Without Oil is all about getting players to be more conscious of how oil is used in everything.

The Bail Out Game is a chance to relive the welfare the banks got from the USA during the banker caused bank implosions of a few years ago.

The NRA has a pro-gun game for ages 4 and up, which is quite ironic.

For more explicitly educational games please check out the great list at Games for Change.

Somewhat related stuff:

Here’s a previous post on the Canadian military looking into using virtual reality and things like America’s Army.

It’s worth looking at how Angry Birds has been manipulated into propaganda in this post at MetaFilter.

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