A couple of new serious games popped on my radar screen today.
The first, Soba, is a massively multi-player game (MMG) focused on neighborhoods in New York City. It was developed by Tiltfactor, a maker of games for social change based at Dartmouth College, and will launch officially on Saturday, September 13 at the Conflux Festival in New YorkCity.
According to Tiltfactor, the game is
…designed to encourage unexpected, playful encounters between players and residents of the culturally mixed neighborhoods in the city. Rather than simply using these neighborhoods as host sites in which the game takes place, we have made these communities central to the focus of MMS, with long interactions and storytelling exchanges with community members the main goal.”
The second, Profit Seed, offers
…a critique of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in general and specifically the patenting of agricultural seeds. It is also an experiment with a novel game mechanic. A player uses her mouse to control the wind, trying to plant heirloom seeds while preventing GMO seeds from blowing onto farmers’ plots. If enough GMO seeds land in the field and germinate, a lawyer from an agribusiness corporation may come to sue the farmer or even confiscate the crops. In between levels, the character of the farmer—designed by the team’s artist Grace Ching-Yun, Peng—presents the player with information about the GMO seed controversy.
Profit Seed was developed by Values at Play, a collaborative research project led by Dr. Helen Nissenbaum of NYU, and Dr. Mary Flanagan of Tiltfactor.
On other fronts, initial reviews of Spore, which I discussed in Spore: A Modern Montessori Toy, seem to be tepid at best. Read/WriteWeb goes so far as to speculate on whether Spore is destined to be a complete flop.
Finally, the Institute for the Future’s massively multi-player Superstruct, which I included in 7 More Learning Games for Change, kicks off on September 22. As the Institute describes it:
Superstruct is the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game. By playing the game, you’ll help us chronicle the world of 2019–and imagine how we might solve the problems we’ll face. Because this is about more than just envisioning the future. It’s about making the future, inventing new ways to organize the human race and augment our collective human potential.
Should be interesting. Check out the Superstruct FAQ for more info, and if you want to play, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to be alerted when the game starts.
Mission to Learn