The culture of designing games doesn’t consider the culture of it’s players, and neither do players. How does this design blindspot remain unchecked? Can updating game design methodologies help?
While Serious Games are fundamentally committed towards the functional reappropriation of the technique of games to support outreach and information sharing, as a field they take from the predominant trends in casual and commercial games. Taking design risks and exploring the larger potential of games are priorities native to the core fields of games, but in Serious Games taking risks distracts from the goals of its games. While many problems within the first-world can benefit from a game-based approach, global NGO’s that have traditionally focussed on providing aid within Asia, South America, or pan-African nations are now doing so using games. My design question here is about designing for the Other, and as such my critique of Serious Games centers on the cultural barriers preventing Serious Games from doing more. A culture of play within a first-world context often shares very little with the culture of play in a second/third world context. As a result, games designed to aid in information sharing using first-world principles are a bad fit, and inefficient vessels for even the dissemination of information in the second/third world. As far as design strategy goes, Serious Games are missing the point.