When my eight-year-old son son told me he cheers on his friends and fights bullies in a video game, I was curious. He told me about Kingdom of Compassion, a game that his school librarian recommended. On his computer, my son was walking with a friend who had his head down and was giving the other person his heart. The friend raised his head and smiled. Then my son drove the player down the road and met a ferocious man who was jumping up and down with his teeth clenched. One quick press of a button, and the bully was in jail.
Kingdom of Compassion was developed by Interland, a division of Google, and is part of a four-part game that teaches players about online safety, such as creating strong passwords and only chatting with trusted friends online. I really liked that the lessons can be applied in life.
I got it Kingdom of Compassion posted on Games for Change, a non-profit organization that promotes and supports developers who are using games for profit. Arana Shapiro, executive director and chief education officer at Games for Change, explains that “Kingdom of Compassion it is one game that we show because it has a good message. Promotes internet safety and media literacy. Sports is where children are, and how people connect. We play and come together. We know that this is a natural phenomenon for young people, so we lean into it and use this method to promote good. “
The Games for Change website serves as a social network to find games that can educate, inspire, and motivate. The site is unsearchable and has age levels and tags for things, such as grief or mental health, and it was easy to find other games like Kingdom of Compassion. For example, Before I forget teaches players about the emotional struggles of living with dementia and has been nominated for a BAFTA award. Bombing in 1942 teaches players about World War II through the eyes of Nazi survivors. 1000 Cut Trip they change the player’s perspective to better understand racism and discrimination, from naked hatred to petty wars. Above all, they are all games that help people understand situations they may not otherwise experience.
Games for Change was founded in 2004 by Benjamin Stokes, the author of the book Played at Home: Real World Games for Strongholds and Humans; Suzanne Seggerman, public speaker and consultant on new media and social media; and Barry Joseph, a digital expert, with the goal of using video games for good and believing in the art of games to teach people history, new skills, etc. without being labeled as “education.”
Later, the team grew and started working with foreign game developers such as Half the Sky from India; Leti Games, a Kenyan gaming company; and Frima, a Canadian software developer who also wanted to create social media games. “Over the last six or seven years, the company has been growing steadily because the game has become so popular. We all have games in our pockets. We don’t live in basements anymore. You play games. Words or Candy Crush? This makes you a gamer,” says Shapiro. “Many of us are playing games all day long and, if used properly, this communication technique can make a big difference in the empathy people have for others.”
Although Games for Change is a great place to find games with a social impact, they offer many other services in the game environment and participate as key developers in new projects. For example, mental health is an under-explored frontier in video games, and the team is currently working with Goliath on a game that puts the player in the shoes of someone with schizophrenia. “There’s something about that experience of actually hearing and tasting and touching that gives us a different kind of understanding,” Shapiro explains.