Darfur in a Nutshell:
Generally, I would have chosen an entirely new game to analyze for my first post, especially given that my first post did not involve a single specific game. I want to begin with a discussion and analysis of the game we played in class, however.
“Darfur is Dying” exemplifies exactly why this is a booming and fascinating industry. The fact that discussion revolved around target audiences, and nearly half the class thought it was targeted to middle school students, while another half (which I originally, and to some degree, still do agree with) thought that no one under fourteen would be targeted, pinpoints exactly why we are having the discussion in the first place: perspective.
Does the use of a ‘donation’ button indicate older target audience, as I originally noted in class? Perhaps it is specifically a younger audience, but the button is used to engage parents. In so doing, to tie to the assigned reading for the week, the rhetorical choices and strategic narrative decisions not only engage parents to donate, but the game serves as a facilitator, an opening for further discussion on the topic.
A facilitator. The concept of rhetorical choice, and using narrative strategy was a genre that Bogost focused on, a facilitator is the one I am creating. A game about shooting and killing may be said to further violence (and in terms of parental advisory standards, I happen to be on the conservative end, I do think ratings are important and CD labels should be kept), but can it not also facilitate conversation between parents and children? What about between children and their teachers, or school faculty?
For this post, I interviewed upwards of a dozen parents on their ideas. My findings were incredible. Most of the parents (I think 10 out of 12) had restrictions on both television and gaming for their children during the school week – not a surprising finding. 11 out of 12, however, all noted that gaming is one of the biggest facilitators for conversation at the dinner table, given that the ages of these children were between five and nine, and that 10 of them were male. I realize this is not an incredibly unbiased sampling, nor that it was conducted well, but the facilitation point is clear – and not a point to be taken lightly.
If you are planning on designing a game, facilitate a conversation. Or several. Discussion and dialogue change the world – so too can your game spur a conversation that does.