Politics and Gaming?

This is a guest post from Jude Ower, founder and CEO of PlayMob. Jude will be speaking at the What Policy Makers Can Learn from Gaming? event on 3rd April

PlayMob SuperheroSeven billion hours per week are spent playing games. The average age of the social gamer is 43 and more women play social games than men. 1/3 of the global population play games.

Do we still need convincing that games are typically played by the teenage boy, on his own in a dark cupboard? We’re told that even David Cameron is an Angry Birds fanatic!

The past three years have seen a massive growth in games due to the platforms we play on (mobile, Facebook/social networks and consoles such as the Wii and Kinect). Games are more widely available, cheaper, easier to get your hands on, and a lot more family friendly and social.Despite grim economic downturns, games still continue to soar (mainly online games). But why is this? We are human, we love to play and we love to have fun. We are social so we play games with our friends, in person or online or turn-based. It is fun to play together or competitively.

Games provide a sense of joy and happiness, of achievement and motivation. There is something for everyone. This year I had the honour of judging the Mobile Category for the BAFTA games awards. I usually dip in and out of games for research or experiment, but here I played 15 games in a month, all because they were mobile and can fit in-between a busy lifestyle. There is always time to play, and it made me happy.

But how can this fit into the role of a policy maker?

Games are an interesting and effective way to gather feedback and opinions. To watch the way large groups of people react and to gauge a general consensus. Now, if I was a policy maker, I would look to connect with an existing game, model a scenario and see what the outcome was.

I would do polls within games, or even create a game or scenario for my constituency to play and provide feedback and learn, in a simulated environment, what the possible outcomes of a policy could be.

Games are a great way to educate audiences on a policy, and not just for kids. But for adults too. Here are some examples:

In this space, we are just getting started. There is so much more scope to create games, to educate and to gather information and opinions. One of my favourite areas is looking at the potential to tap into existing games in order to educate or gather opinions. The new Sims game coming out this year has elements of environmental balancing and sustainability which I feel will be a growing area in the next few years. Getting important messages out to a global audiences via games they already play.

PlayMob Screen shot

Click to enlarge

If you’re coming along next Tuesday, I look forward to discussing further with you!

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