There was a lot of interest at the 2008 Game Developers Conference regarding creating videogames for social good, explore human themes or that at least are embedded with something important to say. I’m really happy to see this because it’s a goal of mine to create games around social issues that inspire people to take action.
Related to that, Philip Zimbardo (social psychologist of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment) is interviewed on Wired.com about his work and his theories as to why good people can become evil and treat others inhumanely. He says during the interview, “But once I switched to being the prison superintendent, I was a different person. It’s hard to believe that, but I was transformed.”
Here’s something to think about. I do believe videogames can be used to transform people, help them to be more open to different ideas and possibilities, to be more tolerant, and accepting of others. That’s all fine and dandy, but if I believe that to be true for the positive side of videogames, shouldn’t I be able to admit that videogames can do the same for the negative side? If videogames can make people more tolerant of others, can’t they also have the power to make people less tolerant?
It’s a scary thought, because, as creators of the most immersive and potentially most influential medium yet, we have a great responsibility not to screw things up for everyone else.
© 2008, Reid Bryant Kimball. All rights reserved.