Keynoting the 2011 Games for Change event at New York University, former US vice-president Al Gore has described gaming as a true mass medium, an art form, and a force for social good.
“Games have clearly arrived as a mass medium,” the politician turned climate change activist said, as reported by Gamasutra.
“This is a very large, extremely significant industry with a wildly diverse and rapidly-growing audience of players on all kinds of platforms.”
“… We’ve arrived at a point where it’s safe to say that games are the new norm for hundreds of millions of users every month,” he added.
Describing the art of game creation as a “world-class stage design that is almost unmatched anywhere else,” Gore commented that games are gaining acceptance both as a pastime and as an artform.
“Game interfaces and scoring rules have become standard… the gamification trend is really, extremely powerful, and you see games dominating the top lists of apps on Facebook and iOS,” he said.
“And games are becoming increasingly artful; it’s now a craft taught in universities and trade schools”.
Gore said that co-operation is more popular than competition in gaming, by a ratio of three to one.
“These social communities say something positive about us and what gamification can do. This industry is sometimes defined by some of the lowest common denominator games… but the cooperation over competition, and the social rules aspect is gaining momentum,” he said.
Gore seemed excited by the potential for this trend to be harnessed for good, with socially relevant and empowering messages for change.
“It has been very exciting to me to see so many ideas that integrate social good and efforts to make the world a better place into games,” he said.
“… “You give me cause for tremendous hope”.
On top of singing gaming’s praises, Gore defended it from the recurrent criticism that games are simply a form of escapism.
“You can say the same thing about books, really,” he said.
“You should try to live completely in the present moment all the time, but none of us do.
” … The immersive quality of games can produce more than the medium’s share of people who get so caught up that it really does become an escape. But at it’s best it is interesting, fun play… lessons and knowledge that are useful in changing reality for the better.
“I have faith in people and in human nature. During the time they are spending in the game, if there are constructive, valuable lessons, I think that’s a good thing.”