The power of video games to help us construct ideas about international relations and foreign cultures is being recognized by the UN in a competition for game designers, which reaches its application deadline tomorrow.
Video games have a bad record for negative depictions of non-hegemonic cultures. I feel like every other action or RPG game instructs me to plunder the ruins of a former colony and use the treasure to kill menacing foreigners. But some games can have a real impact on our ideas about how the relationships between cultures formed historically. The Civilization series has taught me a lot about the kind of forces that can motivate and sustain colonialism, while little-known simulation game Peacemaker was built by political scientists to educate players about the challenges preventing a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is hosting an international app and game design competition on the theme of cross-cultural understanding. If you’re making a game that fits the bill, you have one day left to apply.
According to a press release, the competition “encourages developers to approach the dialogue from many angles or issues, such as gender equality, religious pluralism, and media bias toward other nations or people.”
“The project, Create UNAOC (United Nations Alliance of Civilizations), is an international competition judged by a diverse group of academics, developers and writers. The developers can be amateurs or experts and do not have to have already developed the app; they just need to submit a video, slideshow, or prototype of their work by November 30th. Five finalists, as picked by the jury, will be awarded $5,000 to finish the creation of their game or app to present at the Annual UNAOC forum in Vienna. Here are the rules of entry and details about the awards.”