Games for Change – Family of Heroes
For this game, I chose to play “Family of Heroes” on the website “Games for Change.” “Family of Heroes” is an online role-playing training game whose site states that its bi-fold mission is “ to help families of returning veterans learn essential skills to manage common challenges in adjusting to post-deployment life” and also to “connect more veterans experiencing post-deployment stress with VA services.”
As we’ve seen with several social and political games, there are both educational / knowledge components, but also what I call a ‘referral’ component, where the game refers to external resources for a donation, more knowledge, furthering the motive, morals, and mission of the game; in this case, resources for returning veterans to receive a variety of different resources and services are directed in the game.
Having known little about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this game accomplished it’s laid and spelled out missions and motives incredibly well. If the last post got an A- to an A, this gets an A+ with extra credit for specifically and directly accomplishing a very admirable motive – to help veterans cope with struggles such as trauma when they return from war – an issue that has plagued soldiers for decades.
Statistics such as “there are 900,000” veterans in the New York and New Jersey areas as of 2011 helped guide users and players such as me into understanding how broad of an issue this is – returning from war.
ACTUAL soldiers’ families are made into animated caricatures, which helps give a human quality to a game of a serious nature, in this case. The ability to listen, either via computer-generated audio, or view on caption-aided text is great and adds to a broader audience, either because of environment while playing (I played in a loud café, for example), or for disability – an effective tactic employed here.
Arguments in this game had between the many computer-generated characters have several elements and each underscore the problems of PTS Disorder. For example, two characters have an argument about not wanting to go to a family barbeque (the characters are a mother and a son, a returning vet from war), which turns into a conversation about the son wanting only to be alone.
This eventually ends in a discussion of why – why he wants to be alone, and underscores not only feelings of solitude and desperation, but longing for things that don’t exist. It is these very feelings that make PTSD an incredibly tough disorder to cope with.
Years ago, I saw friends of mine shot. Staying on target and not landing in a personal narrative, I can say that each of the four of them survived, but two of four of them have incredibly serious PTSD. As a result of this game, and it’s ‘resiliency training’ as it calls itself, I forwarded this to mutual friends, and SOME family members. That should underscore its validity, its effectiveness, but most especially, its practicality. Well done.