week 7 – empathy/serious games

This week we still are still concentrating on learning about games; from game history to the ‘purpose’ of games, and indeed discussing whether there IS a purpose and if so, what it is.

I found it interesting learning about serious games- ‘A game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment’. The fact that there is even an official term and definition for this surprised me. As the naive-non-game-player that I am, I hadn’t even considered that when creating and producing a new game there might be some intention and thought behind making the game beneficial in other ways than just entertaining the player. For example ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ which I talked about in my last post after Rikke did a fabulous presentation about it. This game is an opportunity to raise awareness on psychosis and the reviews and testimonials that it has received show how much of a hugely positive impact it has had on many sufferers who have never before found something so relatable or useful help their loved ones understand and sympathise for the first time.

I had never previously really considered how much of a positive impact the gaming industry could have on important issues and subjects, but not because I thought it had a negative impact. I just ignorantly attached gaming as purely a means of entertainment, without taking into account the potential it has in other areas. We also learnt about Empathy Games and the two types of playing in gaming; cognitive (playing AS the main character) and emotional (HELPING the main character).

We considered “can video games induce empathy because they place the user in a complex scene?”. “Empathy is a skill – and empathy games train that skill by encouraging players to create new contexts depending on the storyline in that video game”. I tested out this concept by playing the game SYRIAN JOURNEY created by the BBC and designed with the intention of raising awareness and understanding of the current crisis with refugees coming from Syria. However, I do not think that this particular game worked very effectively. I didn’t like the feeling that I was sat in my cosy bedroom on my expensive laptop playing a game where ultimately it is impossible to win because of how dyer the situation is, and all along the game is based on REAL people and REAL stories and it is happening RIGHT now while I play the game. It felt a little bit like I was making light of their situation, and me playing that game did not benefit them in any way. I don’t think it successfully allowed me to empathize more with them, but I will say that it was educationally beneficial to learn in a little bit more detail the sorts of struggles the refugees face on their journey to safety.

This week’s DDAs…! Enjoy 🙂





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