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Feat. ‘Lords of Football’: Can games solve our problems and bring communities together?

I was surprised when I read about this new game called “Lords of Football“. It is a new game that takes sports games to a whole new level. Mind you, when I start playing a game, I do get quite obsessed with it and will want to finish it as quick as I started playing it. But when I heard about Lords of Football, I never expected a football game that would go beyond trying to score goals on the pitch. This game takes things off the pitch as well, where the gamer experiences the full 360 degrees lifestyle of being a footballer.

Gianluca Vialli

Giving ‘Lords of Football’ a reality check

Lords of Football is a football management sim akin to Football Manager and Championship Manager, but you also have to oversee your players’ performance “when the lights go down and the vices start emerging“. Given how much we know about our footballers personal lives these days, I’m sure it will try its best to simulate tabloid headlines and maybe even give us a closer look at how a footballers life really is. And given Chelsea FC legend, Gianluca Vialli is helping a develop this game, I’m sure it will be a great eye opener.

The Lords of Football Teaser Trailer gives you a glimpse of what to expect; like a footballer going out on a date, chatting up a girl at a club and making out with a girl in the park. It certainly goes beyond the average sports game and maybe also a sign of how we see in football these days. Its no longer just a game. its personal.

Its personal because fans have invested not just loyalty but also money, to support their team. There is a sense of ownership towards the football players. A curiosity and the need to know why your favourite team doesn’t perform as you’d like them and judge them if you feel they are getting out of line and jeopardising the teams performance.

This is similar to how citizens feel about how politicians are spending tax payers money and how government is providing services.  Or how prepared is government when it comes to emergency situations, such as natural disasters, the Olympics, tracking missing people and etc? Citizens want to know how to react to situations that require government assistance, why a service isn’t working and where their money is going.

Can games solve problems?

This is interesting to me because it seems games like ‘Lords of Football’ is taking our culture, emotional experiences and desire to control a situation into a realistic fantasy. It puts a normal person into the shoes of a football manager, who I guess these days not only needs to control players actions on the pitch, but also off the pitch to ensure their maximum performance when playing. If this game is like Heavy Rain or L.A.Noire, where every player can have a different ending to the game based on their actions throughout the game, then each ending is unique to the individual playing it. Does it address other bigger issues like racism and homophobia in football?  Suddenly now everything becomes more serious, right?

Games approximate large scale social systems in size and nature, they have also become spaces where play and learning have merged in fundamental ways. – Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown

A space to call your own

It might be a bit of a stretch for a game like ‘Lords of Football’ to identify with bigger issues like racism and homophobia, but its not completely out of the equation. Let us not forget, gaming can be seen as a learning vehicle that can teach skills and impart knowledge to the gamer.

Gaming for government

For government, I guess the closest simulation that we have is games like SimCity where you can build and design a city.  But that’s quite a huge scale and solving a problem at this scale is probably stretching it a bit. But if we honed in on issues or problems that we have and ‘open sourced’ / crowdsourced / co-creation approach for gamers / citizens, I think its possible to maximise and engage gamers with the problem. Here area  few good examples that are already or has the potential to make a difference in a community.

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SPENT

http://playspent.org/

Here’s a game that combines both gaming and social media together to simulate homelessness. Social gaming is not uncommon, you’ve probably have played Farmville, Mafia Wars and Texas Holdem on Facebook. This game is no different. The only difference is it uses a real situation that happens in our society and educates people on what its really like to be homeless and how someone can actually become homeless.
By having them somewhat experiencing it and knowing how a person can become homeless, the possible outcomes could be, is that they are more sensitive towards their own spending or possibly decide to not ignore a homeless person when they see one. My only reservation about games like this is… although its great and I can see how it can help, how do you get people to play it if social sharing is not successful?

MMOWGLI

http://portal.mmowgli.nps.edu/piracy-welcome

The next game is MMOWGLI ( Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet). MMOWGLI is a new crowdsourcing tool that has been developed by the Office of Naval Research and its partners, Institute for the Future and Naval Postgraduate School, to solve tough problems facing the Navy and Marine Corps.
It’s an online game platform designed to elicit collective intelligence from an engaged pool of world-wide players to solve real problems.  The game will build on efforts to improve the U.S. Navy’s combat capability and energy security, particularly by promoting energy efficiency and diversifying its energy supply (use of alternative energy), which will ultimately reduce reliance on fossil fuels from overseas.
Elicit collective intelligence

Scheduled to run for three days, energyMMOWGLI will immerse players in a future energy scenario from the year 2022 (view scenario at http://portal.mmowgli.nps.edu), and will ask them to generate ideas about how to reduce energy consumption, improve energy efficiency, and diversify its energy supply for the sake of future strategic readiness.

What a clever way of getting people to get involved in some innovation!

Read more here

Participatory Chinatown

http://www.participatorychinatown.org/

Participatory Chinatown is a 3-D immersive game designed to be part of the master planning process for Boston’s Chinatown. You assume the role of one of 15 virtual residents and you work to complete their assigned quest – finding a job, housing, or place to socialize. But look out! Sometimes language skills, income level, or other circumstances can make your task more challenging.
Whatever your experience, you’ll then be tasked with considering the future of the neighborhood by walking through and commenting on proposed development sites. The game can be played in a group or as a single player experience. In both cases, you’ll be interacting with the community, either face-to-face or through their comments within the game.

Every one of your comments and decisions will be shared with real life decision-makers and play a role in the future of the neighborhood. I particularly like this game, as it really does get you thinking as you immerse yourself in the game. It is useful for both citizens and public servants alike to understand each others role better in their own society.

Play the News

http://www.playthenewsgame.com/portal/game.action?gameTurnId=241

This is an engaging, community driven experience – imagine fantasy sports meets the evening news. Play the News is a web-based platform that brings interactive gaming elements to the online ‘news media’ industry changing the paradigm of news consumption from passive reading to active engagement. The experience is made up of the “game” component, or news games, and the community of participation around them such as commenting, rankings, and many features to come. The profile allows you to build a snapshot of your socio-political profile over time on a range of issues.

This game is very clever in anticipating or predict how well a proposed policy could go or what government may have overlooked. Its easy to start playing and very clear in how to participate. All in all, think we should start playing this!

The only downside to this game is, you can’t currently create your own news/game.  Currently the content creation tool is limited to the use of media partners and their own independent content team. They are considering opening the tool for users in the future contingent on solving related rights and legal issues.  So watch this space. I certainly hope it might inspire some local councils to adopt a similar approach to help shape policy and solve problems.


Picture the Impossible

http://picturetheimpossible.com/

Picture the Impossible is a community-based game developed jointly by the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The game engages members of the community in exploration of the City of Rochester, and encourages both creativity and charitable giving in the community. Players participate in a range of activities, including casual web-based games, games that bring players out to events and locations throughout the city, and games that involve the tangible aspects of the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper itself.

I love this game! I always believed that in order to get a community to participate, you’ve gotta give the reason to get up and get involved. Give them a tool to connect that doesn’t make it feel like they have to do it to make society better, but make it feel like they want to do it to make their own lives better. A happy person and family can vibrate through the community and make others have a sense of belonging.

“I’ve been amazed to see so much collaboration, cooperation, and friendly competition here in Rochester, NY – an area unfortunately known for being negative, sarcastic, and introverted. (Sorry! I don’t like the bad press, either!) Thankfully, PTI has helped us Picture what many thought was Impossible: a positive, cooperative, hard-working, friendly, supportive society.” – PTI participant

Experiences from ‘Picture the Impossible’ participants

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All these games were reviewed because I really saw potential in them and wanted to share it with my readers. Its not easy to find something that works that not only is true to its goal, but is true and can be real to the player too. I’d love to see these types of games applied instead of or in replacement of our old style consultations.

I’m not a big fan of just setting up a forum and sticking links or surveys of consultations. What we need more is not policies or laws to make us live better. We need to shape and organically have people care about where they live and the people that live there. We need to somehow engage people so there is increased social capital within the community.

Its a tall order. But I feel, little by little, with the right approach, nothing is impossible.

Hope this was useful.

Thanks for reading!

 

About Liz Azyan

Liz is a CREATIVE digital professional dedicated to helping individuals, governments and businesses realize their digital goals. She offers digital consultancy services on her website LizAzyan.com Liz is also a Google Fellowship Recipient (individuals selected based on their work and initiative in the arenas of technology, politics and social entrepreneurship), an invited expert panel on the Guardian’s Public Leader Network and has spoken at many public events and conferences on the subject of digital engagement.

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