Everything I didn’t know about video games

When you think about video games – what springs to mind?

When I think of video games, I go back to my childhood. It started with Nintendo Game and Watch hand-held games like ‘Snoopy Tennis’, or my favourite that was called ‘Fire’ and involved catching people jumping from a burning building on a stretcher and bouncing them into an ambulance.

I think if I had failed my A Levels it would have been the combined faults of Sonic the Hedgehog and Zelda Princess Warrior.

So my experience of video games is limited which is why I decided that I should pay a visit to the Video Games exhibition at the V&A in London.

I arrived with a whole load of assumptions about video games. ‘Video games are for kids’  ‘Video games are for boys’  ‘Video games are violent’  ‘Video games are for bored adults with limited social lives’  ‘Video games are for people with limited social skills’

I was wrong. And I’m not alone there was a whole section called ‘Disrupters’ that called out these stereotypes and assumptions.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Video games are at the intersection of art and technology. They are a creative and immersive art form, from their appearance on the screen to the music evoking emotions to the carefully designed interactions of the characters.
  • The design tools and accessibility of technology has made it much easier to make games. There is an exciting emerging group of creators writers, designers and artists experimenting and breaking boundaries of what it means to make a video game.
  • Video games can take the players on an emotional journey. For example in the game ‘Journey’ you’re surrounded by mesmerizing visuals as you take on the role of a robed traveller voyaging across an immense desert towards a distant mountain. Communication is through sounds (not speech) and movements. Players explore, help each other and share the emotional experience. It was relaxing – almost meditative to watch.
  • Video games are stories. I saw how some were designed with the character arc of the hero’s journey. The storyboard in addition to the visuals, reflected the players emotional states which in the final games were represented by colour tones showing emotional progress at each level.
  • Players and designers are tackling complex issues with sensitivity and opening up nuanced conversations about topics that people don’t like to talk about. For example eating disorders, homophobia, violence and abuse.

In the charity sector we’ve dabbled with gaming, for example kidney apps to help patient’s take control, Zynga linking their Farmville players to making charitable gifts in the offline world and Armistice themed games raising money for War Child.

With advancements in technology it’s becoming simpler and cheaper to prototype and test games. What was out the grasp for all but the big charities is becoming more accessible for all charities from service delivery to public education to raising awareness and raising money. I think there is a lot of opportunity for the charities prepared to venture into new ways of engaging with the public, supporters, donors, volunteers, service users and employees.

I left the exhibition feeling exhilarated that I’d taken a couple of hours out of a busy schedule to think and learn. And I was also delighted that one of my clients came too – and also left with a notebook of ideas to apply to their fundraising.

It’s really hard to make time to learn, to think and to be creative, but time to think is your fuel for your productivity and your creativity. Because how we’ve always done things won’t continue to deliver results.

That’s one of the reasons I set up the Lucidity Network – designed to help you take the lead in getting the results you want. It’s a pick and mix of online and offline practical tools and advice as well as access to a dynamic network of expertise.

The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

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