In the shadow of the commercial game entertainment industry, independent and serious game makers are exploring the nature of games, play and learning in projects that have the potential to change the way that our society views and values participatory media. At the Game Innovation Lab at USC, we have challenged ourselves to ask the most difficult questions we know how to ask about the future of games. For example, can we make a game about the genocide of a people? Can we use them to promote understanding and participation in our system of government? Can we use game technologies to explore the journey to spiritual enlightenment? Can we bring to life an important piece of American literature as a game? Can we make games that evoke universal human emotions such as joy and wonder in nature?
Recent projects that have come from these questions include the award-winning Darfur is Dying, Cloud, flOw, The Redistricting Game, The Night Journey, and a new history and civics game being created in collaboration with KCET and Activison. This session is an outline of a playcentric process of game innovation and a discussion of the potential of this medium to address critically important subject matter, inspire activism, promote learning, reinforce values, and transmit ideas and concepts only expressible in a dynamic, participatory media such as games