GAMIFYING Digital Rights

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Excited about the idea of using alternative means to communicate complex social issues, a group of us, media futurists from the London School of Economics, headed to London's Furtherfield Gallery to experiment with the idea of using video games to engage communities in conversations about digital rights.

Rules of the experiment were simple:

  1. Draw 2 cards: one from category The Bigger Picture and another from Places, Actions, Beings & Things. The cards dealt with issues of digitally connected and vaguely regulated world. Here is an example of cards: first category- hide your identity; second category- we control our devices, not vice versa. 

  2. Use the high-tech weaponry: sketch paper and Sharpies to visually combine concrete and the abstract prompts of the exercise.

  3. Place the doodle on a design wheel and explain your sketched. The design wheel was divided into 6 categories: Avatar, Mission, Platform, Setting, Obstacle, and Reward.

Time at the gallery was well spent, as linking a simple idea to a larger ideological issue is what graduate school had our group prepared for. We had to think about the issue at hand long enough to be able to reduce a complex idea to a single doodle. We had to further dissect our idea when placing a drawing on the category wheel and constructing a narrative for the game.

Though we did not have the time/resources to actually program this video game, the process of prototyping in itself was helpful to start the conversation about digital rights and privacies. Producing this video game and considering avenues to use data from the game to connect concerned digital citizens with policymakers would be some of the ways to expand on this exercise.

Deeply invested in the perplexing web of online security, I also helped write the narrative and design visuals for the Digital Privacy Quiz. I worked on this project, which was launched with high participation rates at the 2016 South by Southwest Interactive Conference, during an internship at the Center for Democracy and Technology. I also wrote a blog post, titled 10 Tips for Protecting Your Digital Privacy.

All in all, I firmly believe that learning with elements of play and interactivity are effective avenues to embrace the potential of new technologies in enhancing engagement in scientific and educational materials. Some of the most loved video games immerse audiences with fascinating avatars and captivating narratives. Why not employ similar narrative-driven gaming and interactive techniques in museums, classrooms, and other community gatherings to talk about the issues our communities care about?

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All content by Tatev Sargsyan (unless otherwise noted), licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.