有意义的游戏的目标是基于某种方式对你产生重要的影响，影响社会的改变，在玩家离开游戏很久后仍触动着他们的情感，并成为他们生活中永不消失的重要组成部分，不过事实上这类型游戏却非常稀少。让我们以游戏开发社区一款非常受欢迎的桌面游戏为例，即Brenda Brathwaite所创造的《Train》。在这款桌面游戏中，你和其他两个人将相互竞争将一个人从地图上的某一处带到另一处。你能够通过使用列车车厢做到这点（去运载所有人）。你也可以使用各种行动去阻碍其他玩家。尽管之前已经明确了概念，但在你发现目的地之处也就是列车撞向你的地方。如果你在其他玩家前完成目标，那么你不仅能够获取胜利，同时还能知道要将所有的那些人带到哪里，即Auschwitz。《Escapist Magazine》上的一篇文章列举了一个例子，即Brenda Brathwaite将《Train》呈现在公众面前让他们能够游戏。在揭示了目的地时，一名女性非常激动，流下了眼泪并离开了会议室。关于《Train》最微妙的一处便是不同的人是如何游戏的，即在他们发现目的地之后的反应。这样的游戏很少能创造出像“大屠杀”那样的毁灭事件；有些游戏只是会完善你的救生技能。
在2001年至2003年期间，Rosser JC Jr及其研究伙伴组织了一项关于电子游戏完善反应和腹腔镜手术中的全部技能的研究。他们在一篇名为《The Impact of Video Games on Training Surgeons in the 21st Century》的文章中描述了研究结果。33名参与者在玩了3款特别针对该研究而选择的电子游戏之前和之后分别进行了测试。全部的33名参与者在名为Top Gun的技能测试中获得33%的分数。而一周玩游戏超过3个小时的参与者获得了42%的分数。许多外壳医生现在玩电子游戏都要求精确的移动，就像那些为了保持较高的能力和反应而用于腹腔镜手术中的内容。
与之相同的还有Jennifer Ash，Zach Barth，Peter Mueller，一些学生以及奥尔巴尼的成人服务部门所创造的《Capable Shopper》。这款游戏能够帮助残疾人获得自信和能力去应对日常生活中的各种事。在《Capable Shopper》中有两个场景，其中一个带有菜单，而另外一个将提供杂货店的视图。玩家将通过导航在杂货店中寻找自己所需要的材料。这款游戏取得了很大的成功，甚至有人要求在残疾人服务中心的成人服务部门安装游戏及其必要组件。让残疾人能够更轻松地拥有技能和自信去完成游戏中的必要活动可能不是主流的商业成功，但如果这么做能够带给别人帮助的话又有何妨？而如果是一款能够帮助人们治疗致命的疾病的游戏又会怎样？
近几年关于对抗艾滋病的研究取得了很大的突破，但困扰艾滋病研究人员好几年的一个问题是蛋白酶到底是怎样的。由Seth Cooper所设计的《Foldit》是一款益智游戏，在此玩家为了创造出稳定的蛋白质将尝试着改变形状。《Foldit》类似一个名为Rosetta的程序，即依赖于分布式计算去运行无数蛋白质情节。《Foldit》的不同之处在于使用玩家而不是分布式计算去寻找最稳定的蛋白质。来自华盛顿大学的Firas Khatib将《Foldit》输入一个名为CASP（游戏邦注：关于蛋白质结构预测的主要技术评估）的比赛中。最初，社区所想出的解决方法并不可行。然而在Khatib介入并随机化初始蛋白质时，社区将开始想出一些有关比赛中蛋白质结构的最佳答案。
The Future of Games: Can Games Impact your Life?
By Slaton White
Games don’t have the best image in the world today. They’re branded as toys, bad influences, evil, and they are definitely not as respected as other mediums of expressions. However, I believe there will be a change of the public’s perception when it comes to games if we set our sights high enough. Many games and game development companies are already setting their sights higher. All we need now is for commercial games to catch on. So how much chance do we have of commercial games becoming more than they currently are? I’ll be discussing the chances of just that based on reviewing survey results, looking at games that have a big impact, and what some commercial games get right.
In order to get a better picture of how exactly people’s lives are affected by games and in what ways I made a Google survey. I asked people to participate in it via Twitter and Facebook. On this survey I asked people’s occupation, what their favorite game currently is, what their ideal game is, if games have had a noticeable impact on their lives and how. I received 23 responses and while it isn’t enough data to come up with a ratio of people whose lives have been affected to the amount that haven’t been affected by games, I can go into the vast variety of reasons that games have affected people’s lives. 22 people said that their lives were affected by games in some way. What ways they were affected differed vastly. A vast majority of them gained social, vocabulary, and reading skills from games. Others were drawn to a career in game development. Some families were drawn closer together because of games. A few were helped to forget that they were extremely ill or break them out of their shell. One, almost universal effect was bringing friends together in a way that would forever become a fond memory. Not all the responses in regards to a game’s effect were life changing, but they don’t have to be to be meaningful.
A meaningful game whose aim is to drastically affect you in some way, influence a change in society, stir such strong emotions that long after they still reside when the player quits, forever a part of you, is rare. They’re almost non-existent, but they are out there and they can change your life. Take for example a well-known board game in the game development community, Train by Brenda Brathwaite. In this board game you and two other people compete to get people from one place on the map to another. This is accomplished through the use of a train boxcar which you use to carry all the people. You also have various actions that you can use to obstruct the other players. While the concept has been seen before, the end, where you find out what the destination was, is where Train hits you. If you reach the goal before the other players you not only win, but find out where you took all those people, Auschwitz. An article on Escapist Magazine wrote of one instance in which Brenda Brathwaite took Train for a public audience to play. Upon revealing the destination one woman became so emotionally touched that she burst out into tears and left the conference room.(1) One of the great subtleties about Train is how differently people will play, if at all, after they’ve learned the destination. Games of this caliber are rare to bringing up such a devastating event as the Holocaust; some will just improve lifesaving skill.
During 2001-2003 Rosser JC Jr and his researchers conducted a study about video games improving the reflexes and overall skill in laparoscopic surgery. (2.a – pg. 154) They compiled the results of the study in an article called The Impact of Video Games on Training Surgeons in the 21st Century. 33 participants were recruited and were submitted to tests and skill before and after they played 3 video games that were chosen specifically for this study. (2.a – pg. 154) Overall the 33 participants scored 33% better on a skill test called Top Gun. (2.b) Participants that played more than 3 hours a week scored 42% better. Many surgeons now play video games that require precise movements similar to those used in laparoscopic surgery in order to keep their ability and reflexes high.
Along those same lines is a game called Capable Shopper created by Jennifer Ash, Zach Barth, Peter Mueller, other students, and the Adult Services Division in Albany. This game helps people with disabilities gain confidence and ability in doing everyday things. In Capable Shopper there are two screens, one with a list of dishes they can prepare and another which gives them a view of a grocery store. The player navigates through the grocery store finding each ingredient they need. The game was so successful that they were asked to install the game and its necessary components in a permanent installation at the Center for Disability Service’s Adult Services Division. (3) Making it easier for people with disabilities to gain skills and confidence in necessary activates through a game might not be a mainstream commercial success, but does that really matter if it can help someone? If you don’t have a disability or know someone with one you might not be able to answer that question. However, how about a game that can help cure a deadly disease?
AIDS has had many breakthroughs to help fight it, but one problem has troubled AIDS researchers for years, what a protease looks like. Foldit, a game designed by Seth Cooper, is a puzzle game where players try to change shapes in order to make a specific stable protein. The more stable your protein is the more points you get. Foldit is similar to a program called Rosetta which relies on distributed computing to run thousands of different scenarios for proteins. (4) Where Foldit differs is using players instead of distributive computers to find the most stable proteins. Utilizing the Foldit community, Firas Khatib from the University of Washington, entered the community into a contest called CASP (Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Predicition) (4). Initially, the solutions the community came up with didn’t really work. However, after Khatib stepped in to randomize the starting proteins the community starting coming up with some of the best answers for protein structures in the competition. (4) To find more about Foldit, you can read this article or visit the Foldit website where you can also download the game, here.
Obviously, I don’t expect every game to aim as high as affecting AIDS research, but affecting someone’s life is not as difficult as it sounds. Whether the change is as small as getting your players to care about the character or as big as breaking someone out of their shell, making games that mean something is not only possible, but something companies should be aiming for. Games should no longer be looked upon as children’s toys and shouldn’t have goals of selling millions of copies or gaining enough interest to warrant making a sequel. Instead they should be a meaningful part of someone’s life and should help people coup and understand a problem or at least face it.
Will commercial game companies take this path? Sadly, probably not because let’s face it. Companies that make games are mostly making games so that they can make money. Few of them have goals that go beyond making money. There is however a game company that is striving for more, that is making sure that when you play their game you don’t just have something to occupy 30 minutes of your time while you wait for such and such to happen. The company thatgamecompany have made such popular games as Flower and flOw that have had a big impact on how games are made. TGC’s goals as a company, found on their front page, are to push the boundaries of interactive entertainment and provide meaningful and enriching experiences that inspire their players. Their current project, Journey is no different. Their aim is to enforce the wonder of another human being instead of focusing on the powers and abilities of your character in game. (5) Will Journey accomplish this goal? I can’t say for sure, I hope so, but what’s great about TGC is that they’re aiming for something more than just a piece of entertainment. They try to change people’s lives or even the medium of expression they’re using, video games.
There’s a side to this argument that mainstream commercial companies should really be looking at. About 54 million people in America alone could be buying and playing games but because of a lack of support from game developers and hardware manufacturers these people are unable to. (6) Disabled individuals have a wide range of physical and mental disabilities that disable them from playing games. Take for example Chuck Bittner who is a quadriplegic, but regardless of his disabilities is a huge fan of video games. He can play games such as Brink because it allows him to remap the keys since he is unable to use a controller as intended. However, Red Dead Redemption does not allow him to remap the controls to the point that he is able to play the game. It simply does not give the player the ability to fully customize how the player interacts with the game to fit their need or play style. (7) The amount of financial gain alone is worth taking the time to implement customizable controls. Customizable controls aren’t even the easiest addition that can aid people with disabilities play games. Subtitles that show audio cues and dialogue are easy to add and can help the millions of people who are deaf and would otherwise miss the entire audio portion of a video game. Commercial games don’t need to do a lot to make a difference in whether or not someone can play a game. They don’t even need to put a lot of effort in to have a big impact on someone’s life.
Looking at the list of answers I got from people about their ideal game, not all of them talk about a game that changes their lives. So of course there will always be a place for companies to make pieces of entertainment purely for entertainment value. Not every game company will turn into TGC and actually I’d prefer every company to make their own goals, but hopefully those goals turn out to be more than “Let’s sell 5 million copies” or “Let’s get enough publicity to make 2 more sequels.” Companies don’t even have to change much because a lot of games already have a big impact as they are. What’s important to focus on is quality, not quantity and with that life changing games will come. Some companies, like TGC, are already going in that direction and I believe many more will come in some form or another. You can have an impact on someone’s life in big or small ways, but what’s important is that you made a game that is meaningful to someone.
You might not have played a game that affected your life in a meaningful way or even in a noticeable way, but I imagine something that you read, watched, or experienced did have an impact. If other forms of expression can have an effect, why not games? Games are the only form of expression that requires the player to interact with it. There is something extremely powerful in that requirement and as game designers we need to tap into it to not only improve the image of games, but also improve how meaningful they are.(source:slatonwhite)