Asi Burak: Games for Change

For my internship, I researched the CEO for Games for Change Asi Burak. I learned a lot about him as well as other people positively and negatively influenced by video games. It was very interesting to learn that some people want to use video games positively and create change using something many youth love. And others are trying to ban video games due to violence and the glorification video games give to things such as war. Please keep reading to learn about my research!
Asi Burak
Games for Change CEO
ACTIVISM/FREEDOM/STORYTELLINGGames for Change (http://www.gamesforchange.org/)
  • Founded in 2004
  • “Making games for social impact”
  • helps start up new products and provides open platforms for the exchange of ideas and resources

Asi Burak (Games for Change Co-President) (http://www.gamesforchange.org/bio/asi-burak/)

  • Native of Israel
  • VP Marketing and Product at Axis Mobile where introduced pioneering mobile apps and games to worldwide market (Asia, Europe, U.S.)
  • Masters of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellow and BA in Design from the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem
  • Leads on curation, development and execution of programs and services
  • Raises the production, quality and influence of social impact games, and serves as spokesperson of organization
  • Asi and Michelle work on strategic vision of organization and oversee all programmatic initiatives
  • Award-winning exec production who co-founded Impact Games and created internationally acclaimed “PeaceMaker” and “Play the News” gaming platforms
  • A consultant for companies such as Newsweek and McCann Erickson around strategic use of games to further brand engagement
  • Interviewed by international media
  • Invited to speak at conferences and institutions include Sundance Film Festival, Skoll World Forum, SXSW, GDC, US Army War College

PeaceMaker (https://www.peacemakergame.com/)

  • About Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Play both sides with real news footage of what is going on in conflict
  • have 3 different difficulties
  • Win by gaining peace to the two countries

Play the News (http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/play-the-nes/)

  • Changes news from passive reading to active engagement
  • Contains three ways to play: web based publishing too, interactive game modules, and community gaming and commenting structure
  • Able to role-play critical people in the news
  • Able to embed YouTube videos
  • Community profile and gaming elements promote stories over time, content consumption and engage users to build own social political profile about current events

Other Research

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world (http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html)
“Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.”

  • The average gamer in the United States by the age of 21 spends 10,000 hours playing video games
    • 10,080 hours is how long a students spends in school if they have perfect attendance (from 5th grade to high school graduation) – intire parallel track of education where young people are learning as much as it takes to be a good gamer as they are learning about everything else in school
    • Outlyers by Malcom Gladwell (http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/index.html): 10,000 hours theory of success
      • if we can master 10,000 hours by the age of 21, we will be virtuosos at it
  • What are games making gamers good at: urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, epic meaning
    • These 4 things add up to games are super empowered hopeful individuals – individually capable of changing the world
  • The problem that McGonigal is trying to solve is that these gamers only think they are capable of changing the virtual world and not the real world
  • “We’re witnessing what amounts to no less than a mass exodus to virtual worlds and online environments” – economist Edward Castronova
    • They get more out of gaming – better social life, better feedback, feel more rewarded
    • For now, it makes more sense for gamers to spend time in virtual worlds then in the real world
  • Have to start making the real world more like a game
  • Using games to escape real world suffering
  • Creates games such as “World Without Oil”, “Superstruck”, “Evoke”

Modern warfare: Video game or reality? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1xrKnRSNzk)

  • stating the video games such as Modern warefare which desentise kids and glorify war
  • recruits in the united states army use video games to practice before they go to war – for some soldiers this desensitises them and lets them kill more people – don’t think of them as real
  • these video games honour war and it is “gross”
  • The lines between video games and war are very much blurred

Six Days in Fallujah (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiEHrfEYXnc)

  • Third-person shooter that was a about Operation Iraqi Freedom which specifically focused on the Second Battle of Fallujah (Operation Phantom Fury)
  • Squad of U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion 1st Marines over 6 days
  • Subject of controversy and question of appropriateness (true events of game were very recent)
  • Originally published by Konami but on April 28, 2009 they were no longer publishing the game
  • Criticised by war veterans from the UK and UK peace group (Stop the War Coalition)
  • Concerned about glorifying the Iraq war is “poor judgement and bad taste”
  • Worried that it could get into hands of fanatical young Muslims and create more Western hate

Question that come up in my head while researching:

Isn’t a great way to educate youth is to put it in video games? Wouldn’t the youth want to learn more about the subject if it was in a video game more so if they read it from a textbook?

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