Reflection week 7 – empathy games

According to Jane McGonigal ”games are providing what reality cannot”, and with games optimal experience ”flow” can be experienced immediately.

When we need some action in our life we play, when we are bored we play, when we are alone we can play to be social, when we have little knowledge, we can gain knowledge by playing. It is all up to the creators. I believe that the field of games is so vast, we don’t even know! It is really all up to the imagination of human kind. I think I mentioned this briefly in a post previously.

In a lecture in March we were to play a game based on empathy and answer questions on Twitter. Because I did not answer on Twitter I thought I would answer the questions her on my blog 🙂

I played the game Spent!

Q1: Share about the game you played – how effective was it?


Spent address American life in poverty. The game is interactive in a sense, where you as the player get two or more options, which leads/steers you on your path. You have to find a job, a place to live, choose insurance. So, in a sense it is a game about growing up. At the same time, it is not – at least not what I have experienced in Norway.

Spent introduces challenges most people (in Norway) would never stumble upon. For example, if I were to be sick I would call in for a sick leave and still get paid. If I did not show up for work in Spent, I would not get paid. I had to go to work, cause apparently (in the game) I had a kid, bills and it turned out I had a debt of 7 000 dollars. Then suddenly (!) the bank was charging me for being poor! What is this?? The game got me extremely frustrated! (Notice all my exclamation marks) I started thinking; if this was my life I would probably sign up for a gang and become a criminal or even worse – commit suicide. So, to sum up: My opinion is that the game is effective! How ever, I must admit that I did not make the requested donation afterwards. So, maybe it wasn’t as effective as I though?


Q2: Can empathy really be created through game play? How would we know?

believe that empathy can be triggered through game play. I think empathy games should be a part of obligatory learning from early on. How  would we know?


Well, my guess is that the best way to find out is to enroll empathy as a part of a course in school at early stages and have the students do some sort of tests to see how they score. Everyone is individual, but maybe this can be away to strengthen their moral compass.


Q3: How well does the experience create care/concern? 

As you make your choices in Spent, statistics are being presented to you. My experience with Spent is that the statistics help make the situations, the challenges and choices in the game, feel more real. In the game you are fronted with obstacles people meet every day!


Q of the day.. How can we measure the effectiveness of an empathy game?