photo credit: www.gamesforchange.com
Taking advantage of the use of flow in videogames for education and social activism can be used as a powerful learning and motivating tool. For example, in the game Darfur is Dying, players must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of possible attack by Janjaweed militias and is described on their website, http://www.darfurisdying.com:
Darfur is Dying is a viral video game for change that provides a window into the experience of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan...Players can also learn more about the genocide in Darfur that has taken the lives of 400,000 people, and find ways to get involved to help stop this human rights and humanitarian crisis.
In another social change game, http://www.peacecorps.gov/kids, kids are able to learn as they explore information about the challenges that the Wanzuzu experience while playing a game. In addition, there are a growing number of teachers who are utilizing specially designed prosocial games in the classroom.
With most prosocial games, people are given a set of clear cut rules, the levels adjust to the capability of the player with a careful emphasis in design to not be too easy or too challenging for the participant, the status of advancement, etc. is provided along the way, and the aural and animated graphics are simple and engaging enough to keep the participant focused and engaged. By presenting this information in a way that allows for participants to flow as they go, they are visually, aurally and mentally stimulated in an enjoyable—and most importantly—memorable way.
One social change gaming site, Games for Change, “is a non-profit which seeks to harness the extraordinary power of digital games to address the most pressing issues of our day, including poverty, education, human rights, global conflict and climate change. Games for Change serves as a platform for organizations, individuals, government agencies, academics, journalists and the game industry to share best practices, exchange knowledge, incubate new projects and provide access to those seeking to use digital games to positively impact society” (http://www.gamesforchange.com/). In addition to “Darfur is Dying, there are games for all ages that aim to inform and inspire participants on subjects such as farming (3rd World Farmer), energy (EnerCity), nutrition (Fat World), human rights (Real Lives 2010) and dozens more.
In order for the development and growth of an autotelic personality to be operationalized, a person must be intrinsically motivated in high-challenge, high-skill situations. Videogames are just one example of how the optimal achievement of flow and mindfulness can inform and potentially motivate a person to take steps to affect positive social change.
Darfur Is Dying: http://www.darfurisdying.com/takeaction.html
Games for Change: http://www.gamesforchange.org/channels/politics
Peace Corps Challenge Online Game: http://www.peacecorps.gov/kids/