Powell River’s Canada World Youth (CWY) guests took first place in a game design competition. The group will receive $5,000 for their efforts.
The contest was called The BIG Game (Belonging in Games) and was created by The Belonging Initiative, a national collaboration of organizations aiming to end loneliness and isolation, particularly for people with disabilities, said national coordinator Brian Smith. It was an experiment to see if games could provide a method to end isolation and foster community….
In the beginning, 30 teams signed up for the competition, but in the process, some joined forces. When it was time to compete, there were 20.
The games were judged by their success in meeting four criteria. They had to be fun, be playable by almost anyone, have real-world social interaction, through Internet, personal contact, ads, phone tag or postcards, and expand players’ social networks to include people who are different from them.
Mariah Pia Perez was one of the CWY participants who presented the game in Vancouver. “The idea is that it’s a large game that can be played within a community on a large scale in order to get people to expand their social networks and interact with people they normally wouldn’t interact with,” she said.
The winning game is called Free Trade. Each player creates a profile containing three desires. The wishes cannot be illegal or cause harm to anyone. All desires have to be realistic. One must contain be physically challenging and one mentally challenging.
The players are assigned other participants in a community network. Each player must then try to fulfill one desire for each player they are assigned to. In addition, the wishes must be fulfilled without notifying the beneficiary in advance and without spending money.
Each player who has one of their desires fulfilled is eliminated from the game. The player who fulfilled the wish is then assigned the eliminated player’s targets.
In theory, each participating community would have its own game, but players would be connected internationally via the Internet so they could share experiences.
The game stood out because of its benevolent qualities. It is not particularly competitive and stresses positive actions. “Even when you lose you kind of win because you had something nice done for you,” Mariah Pia said. “The other games were all about defeating your opponent.”
Smith said the competition was close, but the winning game stood out because of its scope. “They had a big vision and came up with some clever ideas that seem like they actually might work,” he said. The game was also designed to grow. Each player is required to find two friends to join as an entrance requirement. The game had the potential to include everyone in the world.
The initiative plans to launch some of the games and continue to hold annual competitions to create new ones.
The other teams represented a cross-section of the public, among them, another CWY group currently staying in Sechelt, participants from a community living organization, and a team of social workers.
While Mariah Pia said the other ideas were very creative, but few met the criteria of being a truly inclusive game.
The CWY plan to spend their winnings on a community project in Powell River and another in Namibia, where half of the group lives.
Jonathan Hutchings — Peak Reporter
©The Powell River Peak 2007