Seriously, what’s the deal with serious games?

The Serious Games Initiative is coming into it’s own, and getting some notice from librarians. Serious games focus on education, training, health, and public policy, so they are educational in nature and may be easier to justify in some libraries. One type of serious games are games for change; titles that have a “change the world” or social justice slant to them.

Jenny Levine attended the Serious Games conference at the beginning of the month, and blogged it over at The Shifted Librarian — look for entries from June 3 & 4.

Jennifer Borse provides some serious games resources over at Tidbits of Interest.

Kelly Czarnecki talked a little about serious games in the third episode of the Games in Libraries Podcast.

The following may be good games to link to from your library website, or, games to build programs around. Of course, no media should be consumed in a vacuum, and playing serious games and then talking about them is fast, cheap and easy program that may lead to citizen activism, volunteer projects, fundraising and more.

Darfur is Dying
An advocacy tool to raise awareness for conflict in Darfur. The goal is to take on the role of a water forager, get water back to your refugee camp, and keep the camp functioning in the face of possible attack by the Janjaweed militia.

AYIT: The Cost of Life
Designed by kids, this simulation of life in impoverished Haiti challenges players to balance education, money and happiness. Pick a goal and lead a family of five over four years.

Free Rice
Getting correct answers not only builds your vocabulary, but earns grains of rice (20 for each correct answer). Approximately 20,000 grains of rice provide enough caloric intake to sustain an adult for one day. In exchange for advertisements on the website, various sponsors donate the money necessary to pay for the rice and other costs to run FreeRice. There are no facts about world hunger integrated into the game play; players are directed to