Every day 11 million people plough virtual fields and 30 million people catapult angry birds at smug pigs; in all we spend three billion hours each week playing games. Many companies and NGOs have spotted this and have started to 'gamify' their employee and customer engagement programmes.
Barack Obama has also cottoned on; he has a games adviser at the White House and convened a meeting late last year with some of his key agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the department of energy, Nasa and the army, to discuss the potential for games to address national problems.
The idea that games can help to engage and even solve important issues is not new. Last year Foldit gamers successfully worked out the structure of a protein that helps viruses like HIV multiply. And there are plenty of organisations dedicated to supporting development of "games with purpose", "social impact games" or "serious" games, such as not for profit Games for Change. And plenty of studios too, including the feisty Molleindustria which makes simple flash games about a range of issues, including Phone Story, about the dark side of phone production (very quickly banned on the app store) and a game about Macdonald's where you are in charge of the whole supply chain, from farming and abattoirs to managing the restaurant. Enlightening and uncomfortable.
full article on the GuardianUK: