Monday, August 8, 2011

Bring Our War $$ Home Game proposal

Bring Our War $$ Home Game SURVEY -- click here to add your ideas!
Rae Abileah of CODEPINK on how she would redirect war funds.
I am excited by the opportunity to present my game idea at an upcoming conference, the Military-Industrial Complex at 50 in Charlottesville, VA in mid-September. This idea came to me when college students who are peace activists lamented the apathy of fellow students who were unaware of wars abroad or at home but spent a lot of time "fooling around playing Farmville on Facebook." I've discussed my idea with many game players plus a few game designers, and so far everyone has been positive about the idea. Also very gratifying is support from Jo Comferford of the National Priorities Project about using NPP's amazing data base of federal budget info in this way. Kickstarter turned me down but I will keep trying! Here is a link to use if you want to support the game or help with ideas to improve it.

I am seeking seed money to create an offering in the web-based “serious game” category, based on federal budget data from the National Priorities Project. Players would convert military funds to spending on social needs and infrastructure in an enjoyable, interactive game. The goal: create awareness of the enormous potential of conversion.

The target audience for this game is primarily 14-35 year olds, and secondarily anyone who uses social networking sites to entertain him or herself.

The projected cost of hiring qualified designers and programmers for initial game development is $100k (based on consultation with experienced game designers). The faster the game development, the higher the cost, as more people would be brought in to work on a design team. Most I've spoken to felt it would be feasible to build the game on an existing platform, such that programming for the project would not be starting from scratch.

  • Build on existing platforms and/or the popularity of simple games such Farmville.
  • Provide a social networking aspect to the game.
  • Provide a clear metric so that performances by individual players can be compared.
  • Use highly attractive aesthetic elements to attract a following, with periodic updates to this aspect of the game used to freshen its appeal.
  • Employ experienced, creative game designers to execute this basic strategy.
Beyond funding and developing the game, the biggest challenge would be distribution. Research into what has worked, and brainstorming about what new methods might be effective, could be conducted while the game is being developed. Once established as a web-based game, Bring Our War $$ Home aims to become an application that would run on iPhones, Facebook, and other popular platforms.

People in a democracy ought to be informed enough to have meaningful input into their own governance, and disposition of public funds. Today many in the U.S. consume almost no factual news, relying instead on faux news, infotainments, and in many cases abandoning news gathering efforts altogether to fiddle around on Facebook, or send tweets.

A good communication strategy finds people where they are, and delivers messages that they are prepared to receive; it also responds, adapts, and provides feedback to the user. Games are appealing because of this responsiveness, also because they are fun, and sharing them is fun. Building on these aspects of games could result in a powerful educational tool, where the concept being taught – that conversion is both possible and potentially very rewarding – would be inherent in the game system.

Games continue to be used extensively to recruit young people into enlisting in the military, and to train the general public to believe that all conflicts are to be resolved via the superior application of force. We can see how successful this effort has been. It is time to help turn things around.

Lisa Savage
CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator
Maine Bring Our War $$ Home campaign co-coordinator

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