Balancing Good and Evil in Designing Serious Games

WHY SO SERIOUS? Can a serious game be fun? If so, is that an injustice to the grim realities of the issue at hand, say, homelessness and hunger? There’s Jane McGonigal, who ardently champions the belief that games, as a powerful, proven medium for engagement, can be leveraged for “good” causes--from buying coffee for strangers to ending world hunger. But Patricia Hernandez points out in Kotaku that it’s not as simple as it sounds when it comes to games that want to change the world. Developers in this space struggle to balance the equation between the mold of games as an escapist diversion from reality, and the need to faithfully represent serious issues, in all their dull, unpleasant and unsavory details. And of top of all this, politics and publishers get involved.

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