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Playing for Change

By Tom Watson on June 12, 2008No Comment

Marcia Stepanek, founding editor of Contribute magazine, has a good post on her new blog Cause Global about “games for change,” a growing area of development in online social activism. She quotes MIT professor Henry Jenkins, an expert in youth media and an enthusiastic supporter of crowd-sourcing social change: “We have to think of ways to use games not just to escape reality but to re-engage with reality.” I think that’s right. Having watched a few millennials engrossed in playing freerice.com on the Mac in my kitchen a few months ago (an episode I’ll recount in CauseWired, I think that engagement is the key in socially-conscious gaming – that is to say, games can get people to spend more time with a cause, and that’s (potentially) a good thing. One quick note about Marcia and Contribute – they gave CauseWired its name! The crack editorial staff used that headline over a piece I wrote them a year ago about online social activism, and somehow it stuck.

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