About Serious Games

Serious games (SGs) or persuasive games are computer and video games used as persuasion technology or educational technology. They can be similar to educational games, but are often intended for an audience outside of primary or secondary education. Serious games can be of any genre and many of them can be considered a kind of edutainment.

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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Do We Need More Torture in Videogames ?

To play World of Warcraft now, you've got to be a torturer.

In the recent expansion pack Wrath of the Lich King, there's a quest called "The Art of Persuasion" that requires you to extract information from a tied-up sorcerer. You do this by stinging him repeatedly with a creepy instrument called the "Neural Needler," a device that "inflicts incredible pain to target, but does no lasting damage." After a few minutes, the sorcerer coughs up the info.

As you'd imagine, this little slice of Abu Ghraib set the gameosphere alight with blistering, ideologically freighted debate. Some gamers were straightforwardly creeped out. Others were blasé; games already contain bucketsful of senseless slaughter, they figured, so is torture really worse?

Pioneering game designer Richard Bartle argued that the quest violated in-game canon, since the quest is forced upon people playing with narratively "good" Alliance characters (as opposed to WoW's evil Horde characters). In the end, the Art of Persuasion quest poses a big cultural, aesthetic and political question: Should games include torture?


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