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There was an article on the BBC today about serious computer games.

No longer the preserve of teenage boys sitting in darkened rooms, games have been designed to give people insight into the middle east conflict (you can play either side), how to cope with dwindling oil reserves, sex education and what constitutes undue pressure, and many others.  The theory is that if you make it fun people will be more engaged with it and will learn better.

As an aside, it works with fiction (both books and TV), too.  I’ve learnt more history from fiction than I ever did at school, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.  I was particularly entertained when I discovered that the writers of Stargate SG-1 had chosen to name their alien mineral naqada after a period in Egypt’s pre-dynastic history famous for its pots.

Staying with Stargate – Universe this time – the serious computer game concept was used to farm out processing power to people without security clearance.  That’s how they recruited Eli in the first episode.  He solved the puzzle in the game and then discovered high-ranking members of the Air Force on his doorstep to congratulate him.

And I won’t even mention The Last Starfighter.

But back to saving the world.

Does it work?  Could playing games solve the middle east crisis?  It’s hard to tell.  You can measure how many people play the games, but how would you measure the effect it was having on the real world?

What do you think?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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