Prisoners of War & games that open our minds

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I’ve written about the potential of games for peacebuilding before on this blog, especially PC and increasingly web based games that use Flash and other interactive technologies to highlight some of the most pressing concerns in the world today, such as the situation in Darfur.

I came across Prisoners of War today, created by the Red Cross soon after I read a Wired article, referenced on Colin’s blog, on a game called September 12th.

Unfortunately, September 12th does not run on the new Intel Mac’s, which is a strong case to build games using Flash alone. Having switched to a Mac, I’m also locked out of a Force More Powerful, which I was on the verge of purchasing when I switched to a Mac and discovered that it was only available for Windows PC’s.

As the Wired article quotes Mark Weitzman, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Task Force Against Hate:

“I think that what is essential is allowing players to freely experiment within a virtual environment and encourage them to discuss what they play with their peers,” says Frasca. “September 12th carries its own humanistic message, but I think that eventually, it would be even better if players would be able to use games as small laboratories for exploring — and contesting — their own beliefs.”

Of the two games mentioned here, I wish the model for future serious game development follows that of Prisoners of War – these games need the widest possible reach and need to be lightweight, engaging, simple to understand yet powerful in their message, run on any PC and importantly, run on low spec machines and those which only have dial up connections.

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