Using Game-Based Approaches to Engage Citizens and Deliver Public Services
Nicole Lazzaro, President XEODesign, Inc.
The Obama Administration has challenged federal agencies to engage the public in meaningful ways to provide ideas, insights, and comments on new policies and existing services in order to make them more citizen-centric. The Administration’s Open Government directive asserts: “Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions.” Many agencies, however, are finding that few citizens are participating in their initiatives. Even the White House’s “We the People” petition initiative has found that most of the petitions submitted have been frivolous, such as petitions supporting building Death Stars, and nationalizing the troubled Twinkies company. The White House Open Government initiative is also seeking to engage citizens in other ways, stating: “Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government.” As part of these initiatives the isolated successes, such as agencies sponsoring contests and awarding prizes to citizens who develop innovations to solve public challenges have been games.
In its second term, could the Obama Administration do more to incentivize greater participation and collaboration by citizens? The answer is “yes.” One new approach could be the use of game inspired thinking to design public services. … Read more
In collecting proposals for the Office of Vice President Biden I was thrilled to receive in a matter of days over 100 ideas on reducing gun violence. I was impressed at the heart felt passion from multiple sides of many issues including gun regulation, mental health care, the question of whether the violence in video games is just used as a political tool, and the content and regulation of game themes. None could point to a definitive study linking real world gun violence to video games, however, many thought games could provide a wider variety of experiences for players.
While gun control is a wicked problem the good news is that there are a number of simple things we can do to start reducing violence. Here’s a list of new year’s resolutions for Vice President Biden and those wanting to reduce gun violence in 2013.
1. Vice President Biden must work to lift restrictions banning the CDC and NIH from researching gun violence and the effects of gun control. (found by Mary Holzer) Is this real? Seriously?
2. Vice President Biden should establish dialogs with the gun owning community about their thoughts about how to reduce gun violence. (suggested by Kevin Jones)
3.… Read more
Dean Takahashi, Game Journalist
I’ll assume that this is about the role that the video game community could play in reducing violence. I’d have other thoughts on gun control.
I’d sidestep the issue of whether games cause mass shootings. But I think that everyone could be more responsible, including members of the video game community. That means they could make it clear that the marketing of violent games and the marketing of guns isn’t integrated. There should be no ads for real-world weaponry in the midst of a Call of Duty game. I would say that should be a guideline for the game community, but not a law or a commandment. I think guidelines are better than making anything illegal.
I think that the game industry should be encouraged to achieve the lofty levels of great art forms. The President could inspire the game creators to create great art that is also fun, rather than games that appeal to the lowest common denominator. He could encourage people to create non-violent games or those that educate. I think it would be a good thing for the industry to diversify beyond violent games and to encourage more original thinking. Encouraging self-introspection and the shift toward a greater art form could be important.… Read more
I’m sharing some of the proposals I received to forward to VP Biden to reduce gun violence. Warren’s idea of setting the insurance industry against the NRA could be an epic boss battle. Game On! \o/ Nicole
Warren Spector, Veteran Game Designer Founder, Junction Point Studios
I’m honored to be asked to contribute ideas to the national discussion concerning gun violence and to represent the video games medium in that discussion.
Leaving aside my obvious love of games and respect for the medium, and speaking as an ex-‐academic in the field of media studies, I think it’s important to begin with a solid sense of history when we discuss the role culture and cultural artifacts might play in tragedies of the sort we’ve seen too often the last few years.
Blaming video games for gun violence today is as silly as it was for politicians and pundits of the ’60s to blame television for all of our woes… or critics of the ’50s to blame juvenile delinquency on pinball parlors and comic books… or cultural critics of the ’20s and ’30s to blame movies for a variety of social ills.
We have to go into this discussion with the knowledge that whatever medium of communication the “grown-‐ups” didn’t grow up with is the one deserving of all the blame.… Read more
Asi Burak Co-President, Games for Change, Faculty at the School of Visual Arts in NY (MFA)
Thanks again for the opportunity. With this short notice, I’m going to outline in broad strokes some of my thoughts. These are not necessarily concrete proposals, but what I feel are some useful guidelines that could direct our thinking around gun violence and gun control in the US.
1) International context and numbers, numbers, numbers:
The debate needs to move from the US alone as an isolated environment to a broader global context. When the number of gun killings (and suicides) in the US, calculated in proportion to the population, is compared to what happens in other so-called civilized countries, you immediately understand that the problem is indeed about guns and ‘gun culture’. Arguably youth in Europe or Israel are exposed to similar content in the media, but the number of gun murders on an annual basis is dozens per country. In the US – thousands (e.g. over 10,000 in 2008).
The argument that there are special security issues in the US or that guns are the answer to mass shooting or other attacks is weak – Israel for example has a low rate of gun crimes, with serious security threats and very tough gun regulations. … Read more
Joel Brodie, Founder Gamezebo.com
The NRA’s position that games (and movies, and TV, and everything else in the world aside from the fact we have more legal guns in this country than people) is the cause for violence is terrible.
The official games industry position, however, that games are not a factor, is almost just as bad.
Games don’t necessarily cause gun violence. There are many studies around this, games are played in countries with less gun violence, and playing Mario does not make me want to eat mushrooms (ha ha, we all have heard that joke before).
But the new breed of photo-realistic, misogynistic, and ultra-violent games take violence to a new level. Compare Doom to the original Call of Duty (WWII shooter) to Call of Duty today the amount of guns and blood and guts is unreal. And this is just one multi-billion dollar property.
We make our money in games, but to deny that this could be psychologically bad for teenagers and people with mentally ill problems, or that this is not “target practice” for people who do want to shoot people up, is moralistically wrong. You can cite all the studies in the world. Play Call of Duty on an XBox for a day or watch a kid do it, and you can’t deny something is wrong.… Read more
As a citizen, I honestly think the best way to keep gun violence from spreading is to keep guns out of the hands of unstable people. That means stepping up efforts to educate people about the warning signs, increased spending on mental health facilities & outreach, and state-led efforts to control the sale of guns in general.
As a developer, I dedicate my time to creating new, experimental games that challenge conventional wisdom about the marketplace and “what gamers want”. I encourage every young developer I meet to seek the freedom and funding to make games about something they care about deeply. Rarely is it war, revenge, or wanton violence.
Perhaps the administration should sponsor independent developers through foundation funding and grants. Or work to encourage public conversation through organizations like LA Game Space. Developers and programs that celebrate the art/possibility of games broaden the content that’s available *and* inspire the next generation of game makers. Supporting them seems like a huge win for everyone involved.… Read more
Gathering proposals for Vice President Biden on reducing gun violence I received so many interesting ones from game industry veterans I thought I’d share a few. Here’s one from Erik Bethke. Game On! \o/ Nicole
Erik Bethke, Game Entrepreneur
Simple Gun Responsibility Policy Recommendations
The Right to Own Guns is a deeply held American value.
While many countries around the world have successfully implemented strict gun control laws – and have seen dramatic reductions in homicide rates – we do not propose the wholesale restriction of gun ownership.
Gun Ownership is a right that carries strong obligations and responsibilities to wield this right in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of fellow Americans – namely the pursuit of life itself.
In short, we promote Gun Responsibility not Gun Control.
Ownership, Training, Checks and Tiers – OTCT
1. Full Ownership – You own your weapon and take full responsibility for all actions of the gun: Safe gun-keeping, safe transportation, safe selling and transferring and of course all injuries and deaths resulting from the gun are the responsibility for the gun owner.
a. Do not lend your gun to friends, do not allow your children to have access to your guns, and always lock your guns in a Federally approved gun safe when not in active use.… Read more
Ernest Adams, High Technology Consultant
The sudden enthusiasm on the part of gun rights proponents for better mental health care is nothing but a smokescreen. Tragedies such as Sandy Hook, horrific as they are, are really beside the point because they are comparatively rare. Gun violence in America is far higher than that of other First World nations with similar numbers of guns per capita. The problem is the ease with which guns may be obtained by people who cannot be trusted with them. I have a number of concrete proposals that do not violate the Second Amendment.
* The small-scale unregulated manufacture of firearms and ammunition must be banned outright, with mandatory jail terms for so doing. 3D printers should be sold under licensing terms that prohibit the purchaser for using them to construct firearms or parts to be used in firearms.
* All ammunition must be purchased at licensed venues that are separate from firearms sales venues.
* All firearms must be purchased at permanent, licensed venues. Gun shows should be outlawed entirely.
* Firearms should be the subject of a federal excise tax, similar to that on tires, calculated at such a rate that the anticipated sales of firearms in a given year will be enough to pay for the total firearms-related medical care costs incurred by the Federal government in the previous year.… Read more
For those following the gun violence and games debate here are some handy links:
Gamasutra letter chastising game developers from participating in the gun violence debate with Biden. (i.e. Me
Gamasutra: Opinion: Meeting with Biden is a Mistake for the Games Industry, Kris Graft, Editor-in-Chief Gamasutra http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184564/Opinion_Meeting_with_Biden_is_a_mistake_for_the_game_industry.php#.UO8m9I6hDns
IGN Response: An Open Letter to Gamasutra’s Kris Graft: You’re Dead Wrong, by Casey Lynch, editor-in-chief of IGN.com. @Lynchtacular. http://www.ign.com/blogs/kamicasey/2013/01/09/an-open-letter-to-gamasturas-kris-graft-youre-dead-wrong/
IGN Editorial on Violent Video Games: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/01/09/lets-talk-about-violent-video-games
IGN coverage of the ECA Open Letter to Biden by Jennifer VP and General Counsel for the Entertainment Consumer Association (members include 36 large publishers and developers)
http://ca.ign.com/articles/2013/01/10/gaming-association-publishes-open-letter-to-joe-biden?abthid=50ef0b87a2f98e8739000036 (IGN article by Colin Moriarty, IGN PlayStation editor @notaxation)
IGDA Open Letter to Biden by Daniel Greenberg Chairman, Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee International Game Developers Association http://www.igda.org/node/1042467
Americans for Responsible Solutions social petition. Gabby Giffords, responsible gun owner, and her astronaut husband have started http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/gabrielle-giffords/ (via. Isabel Walcott Draves)
USA Today on ARS: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/01/07/gabby-giffords-mark-kelly-tucson-shooting-gun-control/1816383/
Political Links Banning Research on Violence (unbelievable!)
CDC and NIH barred from researching gun violence. (via. Mary Holtz) http://thethorntonreview.com/news/us/1645-nra-prevents-funding-for-studies-on-gun-violence
ATF banned from releasing it’s data on which guns are killing us. (via. Christina Wodtke) http://www.npr.org/2012/12/20/167694808/assault-style-weapons-in-the-civilian-market
Fun to see the energy here. Hoping we can reach critical mass behind the solutions.… Read more
The Office of the Vice President asked me to gather concrete proposals from industry leaders on what the Obama Administration should do to reduce mass shootings and gun violence. I have been so taken with the number of creative responses that I thought I’d put a copy of the Vice President’s email here and invite you to take part in the conversation either here on my blog or ping me privately by email.
In the days since the tragedy in Newtown, Americans from all over the country have called for action to deter mass shootings and reduce gun violence.
Recently, the President asked Vice President Biden to lead a new initiative and identify concrete proposals for real reform by January. As part of that process, the Vice President will meet with stakeholders from across the spectrum.
The Vice President and Cabinet have answered the President’s call to continue this important conversation, and want to hear from organizations and experts across the country. If you and your organization have policy proposals for the Administration to consider, please submit your written proposals by January 5th.
As the President has said, “If we’re going to change things, it’s going to take a wave of Americans – mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and gun owners – standing up and saying ‘enough’ on behalf of our kids.” We encourage you to have an active conversation with your members and colleagues as part of this process and send us their feedback as well.
The Four Keys to Fun: Using Serious Game Technology to Deliver Public Services.
How to use games to craft emotions to build trust, increase participation,
and even deliver public services.
Video games are the new medium of the 21st Century and have the potential to transform how governments communicate, provide information, and deliver public services. Although largely seen primarily as a distraction and waste of time, inspiration from the proven underlying game mechanics provide the opportunity to improve the way public services are designed, ratified, offered, and utilized. In fact these Serious Game Technologies delivered on a social mobile platform are such powerful organizers of human action and engagement that in the face of such enormous challenges such as AIDs, economic crises, and climate change it is our responsibility to do so.
Games are self-motivating systems and for the past 30 years game designers have evolved interactive techniques to create emotion, support performance, encourage problem solving, develop system thinking, and increase engagement. The power of games to hold attention comes from specific designs around decisions that players make. Game designers craft emotions, situations, choices, and feedback that create the opportunity to change the way that players think, feel, and behave. With the increase of public information and services delivered electronically this engagement language of games has application to design interactive services to better serve the public and unlock their human potential through play.… Read more
As a thank you for all the amazing support during Tilt World’s May Day special, we are offering these spiffy new wallpapers for your Desktop, iPad and iPhone! Enjoy!… Read more
We’ve been blown away here by the reception of Tilt World for the iPhone. I am super proud of my team who worked around the clock (literally) for months to bring the game to you in time for Earth Day. We’ve been mentioned in over a thousand publications world wide. Forbes compared us to the next Instagram, and downloads of the game exceed expectations. Had to take a walk through the Rose Garden to take it all in. All this good news aside, what I’m most excited about is Flip’s Earth Day challenge to players and to me. For those who haven’t met Flip let me introduce. Flip’s the eco-hero of our game, a tadpole determined to reforest Shady Glenn that has been deforested by a toxic green Blight.
Here’s the deal. Once players post 3 Million Tilt Points, Flip sends me packing to Madagascar to plant the first 1,000 trees. Along for the ride will be one lucky winner who posted the 3 millionth Tilt Point. Lucky them! Be sure to Sign In on the Impact Book so we know who you are!
Left all alone in the green Blighted ooze that was once Shady Glen, Flip the mighty tadpole decides to bring back the forest and friends. Too young to crawl, Flip needs your help to control gravity and the wind to eat carbon out of the air and catch seeds to restore the sunshine to Shady Glen and plant trees in the real world!
Now available for the iPhone on the App Store
visit www.TiltWorld.com for more information… Read more
XEOPlay, Inc. is launching its first iOS game, Tilt World, that creates measurable global impact for good by harnessing the power of playsourcing.
In Tilt World, players meet Flip, a tadpole on a mission to stop climate change in the game and in the real world.
Tilt World offers a mobile experience unlike any other. Most importantly, this game is fun. By allowing our game to be played on iOS devices around the globe, players can playsource global change by using the game to construct a better tomorrow, as they play, anytime, anywhere. XEOPlay is offering a live update with our first campaign to plant 1,000,000 trees in Madagascar, in partnership with WeForest. Players can see a graph of Madagascar and the number of points being added in real time by players all over the globe.
What they are really talking about in the bigger picture is the playsourcing movement.
Unlike many other games for good, Playsourcing occurs when the play itself changes the player and their world.
By engaging enough people in playsourcing, we can actually solve problems through direct action in the real world with a game. We will be doing additional research on this boundary between virtual actions and real world results to create new mechanics and genres of games.… Read more
Cubicles are Cages for People
Let’s face it, cubicles are cages for people. If the average workplace or school were a zoo, the human society would shut it down for the one simple reason that it fails to provide the mental furniture required for people to do their job. We need Aeron chairs for the brain to focus attention and aid problem solving and enhance feelings of challenge, mastery, and accomplishment. Enterprise software, digital media tools, and even email can benefit from game-inspired engagement techniques. Schools structure kids to work in factories that no longer exist – except in Asia.
For example, We spend a lot to make sure it’s easy to print a report, yet nothing at all on enhancing the feeling of mastering difficult content or hard work.
People spend their workday inside Facebook because the social interaction has been extracted from the tasks.
Games have evolved many techniques to solve this problem
The Reason We Have this Problem is that We Know So Little About How to Create Tools that Engage, Build Skills, and Support Thought. The solution is to apply games to real life. What we need to do today is to apply this knowledge about Serious Fun to work.… Read more
At the turn of this century, I stood on the roof of a temple in Dendara Egypt. It was a hot and dusty day with the sun high over head. Reaching down for my canteen for a last sip of water I stopped and stood in amazement because there at my feet someone had carved a game board. I thought, wow three thousand years ago two people stood where I stood and thought to pass their time with a game. Thinking ahead twenty years what kind of games would I want to make, more importantly what kinds of games would I want to play?
Like Newton watching an apple fall, I became fascinated by the invisible pull emotions have on human actions. It soon became clear that emotions from player choices were the keys to fun and that video games used hundreds of rules to make a handful of emotions. If they were lucky. Whereas watching kids play, the full pantheon of human emotions emerge from a game with a single rule: Tag you’re it.
As I walked back to my boat on the Nile with this vision for 2020, I realized with a 20/20 hindsight that to create the games in my imagination everything we knew about how make, finance, and market games would have to change.… Read more
Welcome to my new conversation space on emotions, games, and why we must play. It’s an exciting era for computer games in the 40 years since PONG games are a new medium for the 21st century. Whether you call it gamify, gamification, or simply adding the engagement of games, it’s an exciting time to experiment changing our world with the power of play. Reading the emotions on people’s faces on public transit or while editing a spread sheet at work day I’d like to see us take advantage of emotions and play to create richer experiences.
You’ll still be able to find my slides on Slideshare
Games are self-motivating systems and it’s fascinating to me to watch how simple clicks on a button unfold in the player’s mind to become engaging life-enriching experiences. Whether it’s playing Just Dance to loose weight, Words with Friends to get smarter, our own Tilt World to promote eco-recovery, or Draw Something to stay in touch with friends, games have amazing potential to change ourselves and change the world.
I’m very grateful to my team for putting this together. I’ve had the fortune to collaborate with amazingly talented individuals such as Dan Super, Chuck Soper, Stuart Dubey, Iggy Medrios, Matthew Petyo, and Glenn Hernadez on Tilt World.… Read more