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Therapeutic Gaming
Sarah Rich, 1 Jun 06

in_harris_1.jpg As the San Francisco Chronicle puts it, the gaming industry is stereotypically perceived as "a gawky, geeky, hormonal juvenile delinquent who has an unhealthy fascination and mercenary interest in violence, combat, criminality, guns, porn, trolls, mutants, explosions and splatter." No doubt. But as we've demonstrated here time and again, gaming environments can be a staging ground for combatting corporate corruption, and learning about political conflict and peacemaking. They can even be an interactive approach to health and healing.

The image here comes from a game developed and designed by Ari Hollander as a tool to help phychotherapists treat patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from having witnessed or survived terrorist attacks.

Anecdotal evidence, [Skip] Rizzo and Hollander said, suggests that the therapy is helpful for some patients. New programs are introducing tell-tale aromas -- cordite, burning rubber, body odors -- to add to the sensation...Game developers, meanwhile, are preparing for other therapeutic possibilities [such as] games to address the effects of Alzheimer's disease -- potentially a $100 million market.

The utility of this kind of game is now being recognized with honors and awards, and some game designers have aspirations to win Nobel Peace Prizes with well-executed humanitarian games, along the lines of Food Force. Other games are in development that would teach empathy through realistic war-time survival experiences and community activism. The "virtual Nobel" went to game designer Harvey Smith of Midway Games for his multi-player online game.

From time to time, players would organize "flash mobs" -- quickly organized gatherings -- to stage protests and do good deeds, such as helping the needy, cleaning the environment, or hammering nails for Habitat for Humanity. A scoring system could be developed to reflect players' deeds both online and off. It's said that computer games are a "lean-forward" medium because they engage their audience, while TV and cinema allow viewers to lean back.

via: The SF Chronicle

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I would be interested in becoming involved in developing a virtual sustainable-community game.
Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Mary Luketich on 5 Jun 06



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