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The rise of social gaming

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I’ve written a bit over the past year or so on the rise of games that are aimed not just to provide fun for the players, but also to help deliver some kind of social good to society too.

Indeed, only last week I covered a game called Elegy for a Dead World which aims to help players absorb themselves in the creative world of Byron or Keats.

Of course, there are some games that take on loftier goals entirely.  For instance,Reverse the Odds is a game created by Cancer Research UK to help with the fight against the disease.

That’s one of a growing number of science related games.  For instance, Eyewire is a game that aims to improve our understanding of neuroscience. Phylo is a logic game that aims to bolster our knowledge of genetics.  EteRNA is a game that explores the folding patterns of RNA, whilst NOVA is tackling a similar issue, but with the hope that it will get youngsters involved.

Suffice to say, those games all take a heavy, science based view of things. That Dragon, Cancer, however aims much more at our emotions.  It tells the story of a boys fight against cancer.  That the boy in question is modeled on the creators own son Joel adds to the poignancy of the game.

The game places players in a world that is navigated via the mouse and is accompanied by poetry and prose.  As players progress through the game, they discover new elements of how a family battles with cancer.  It recently underwent a successful campaign on Kickstarter and is due for full release in late 2015.

Games as a means of understanding community issues

I wrote back in 2013 about a game called Fort McMoney, a game that places players in a small mining town in Canada and invites them to explore the various social, economic and environmental issues invoked by such a place.

It’s on this broad theme that a game called Never Alone has been launched.  It’s been created by indigenous gaming company Upper One Games and places the player into a traditional native Alaskan story.The game is based upon the traditional Inupiat tale of Kunnuksaavuka, with the heroine being a young called called Nuna who is fighting a blizzard that threatens her local community.She is helped in her quest by an arctic fox, with players given the choice of playing as one or the other (or both if two people play).Whilst the game isn’t free, it is nonetheless an interesting example of how a game can achieve something beyond simple entertainment.  Check out the release trailer for it below.

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