Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dead Man Walking

"In the Balance: The Death Penalty Game" has been lauded by the Bay Area Producers Institute for New Media Technologies as an example of a new serious game. As usual, the question may turn out to be: how can game creators balance the demands of activism with the interests of philanthropic organizations that fund their development? For example, on the game's home page, they describe their appeal to "various funders, including the Sundance Institute, ITVS and the MacArthur Foundation."

Ironically, there are already a number of interactive media projects about the death penalty, but they tend to lack the gravitas of this project. They include Stick Figure Penalty, Death Penalty Fun, and other seemingly inappropriate examples of levity.

The "In the Balance" group, which also takes credit for the high profile game Darfur is Dying, is also at work on a game about gender violence, "Replay: Finding Zoe." (It is a different order of game from those produced in response to the teen dating violence game challenge from earlier this year, although its use of multiple choice questions to establish "pre" and "post" player conditions may be a problem as a design feature.)

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