What Games Can Do

Posted by SOTTO Thursday, September 6, 2012

Brenda Brathwaite has a compelling argument for what games can do that other art forms can't do as well: implicate the player in the moral universe of the story by giving them choices with moral consequences.

In less fancy talk: her seven year old daughter came home from Black History Month. She'd heard all about the Middle Passage, but she didn't get it. It hadn't reacher her emotionally.

Then Brathwaite made a little game where some pegs were people and her daughter painted them different colors to be families. And then some of them got put on a boat. And the boat had a certain number of turns to cross the ocean. And there wasn't necessarily enough food for everyone -- unless she kept rolling low numbers. So what could she do? Throw some people into the ocean, or risk everyone starving?

After playing the game for a few turns, her daughter got it. Then, she cried. And so did Brenda, and her husband, too, when he came home.

A movie can ask the viewer, "What would you do?" In SOPHIE'S CHOICE, which child would you save? But you don't have to participate in the decision. The movie will keep rolling on to its conclusion.

A game can make the player choose to do it.

Daughter story starts at 4:30.


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