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Social Issue Games Can also be Commercial Games

April 12, 2011

This article and interview caught my eye.  It’s with Red Redemption, makers of the global warming game Fate of the World.  They state that serious games (i.e. games that tackle serious issues) can be commercially successful projects:

[Those games] that tackle real-world issues and aim to educate as well as entertain – can be done on a commercial scale, making them a viable business for publishers that are becoming increasingly risk averse.

However, as with all game development it’s a struggle to realise the final product. Red Redemption spent as much as £200,000 raising £1 million from investors, faced death threats over the subject matter and had to work the system in order to score more finance through the R&D tax credits offered by the UK government, according to CEO Klaude Thomas.

“I just felt that there was there was a market here, and it was actually feasible to develop serious games commercially,” said Thomas, of his decision to leave big budget games development and enter the serious games market.

I’ve played Fate of the World at beta and its a fun game.  Serious topic, fun game. Which brings me to this point of ‘Serious Games’ – a tag I’m not happy with.  Why is the topic of Fate of the World (climate change) classed as serious when that of Call of Duty (war) is not?  Both are serious topics and fun games.  So I agree with the concept of ‘serious games’ but just not with the tag.  However I’ve not yet thought of a clever one to suggest as a replacement, ‘Social Issue Games’?  (It’s a bit…well…serious…)


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 12:06 pm

    Yeah. Everyone hates serious games, but it has stuck like superglue laced shit to the shoes of game design. Try a hard as we like we can’t scrape it off.

    So serious games can be commercially successful and fun, and commercial games can also contain educational elements. Though the difference is in what they are intended to do. Some nice thoughts on Extra Credits on how educational elements can be crammed into commercial games in interesting ways.

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