There are lots of theories about how people get wrong-headed ideas or vote against their own interests. Now game designers are trying to do something about it. Fibber is a game about political deception and voter self-awareness. It’s a political “strip guessing” game where players try to determine whether the candidates for the American presidential election of 2012 are telling facts or fiction. The goal of the game is to raise self-awareness and personal fact checking in a world inundated with misleading political ads, social media, and personal bias. Fibber was created by Seek Change, an organization dedicated to using technology to advance self-empowerment and personal well-being. In Fibber, players are asked to determine whether a series of statements from current American President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are true or false. The statements are pulled from various news sources, campaign speeches, documents, and public appearances. Whenever a player correctly finds a lie, which is backed up by actual evidence, an article of clothing from the liar is removed. Of course, if you incorrectly guess, the game asks you to remove an article of your clothing! While the game serves as an interesting window into the amount of possible deceit in the public discussion brought upon by our leadership, the game also reveals a player’s personal bias to what they perceive is “the truth”. By analyzing how players respond and showing them what statements they incorrectly guessed and why, those engaged in playing Fibber can better understand how they perceive statements from those in power. This in turn will allow them to better analyze how and why they perceive statements as true or false. The information gathered by the game is then shared via social media to further promote fact checking, thus allowing the game to not only expose falsity, but correct it as well.
Fibber is just one manifestation of a new turn among game developers, many of whom have orientations, to make games that do more than simply waste time.See the book and website “Reality is Broken: Why Video Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World” by Jane McGonnigal. Or check out Games-for-Change, self described this way: “Founded in 2004, Games for Change facilitates the creation and distribution of social impact games that serve as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts. Unlike the commercial gaming industry, we aim to leverage entertainment and engagement for social good. To further grow the field, Games for Change convenes multiple stakeholders, highlights best practices, incubates games, and helps create and direct investment into new projects”.