Passing The Ball – Making An Advocacy Game For Web Wise Kids

Having a lot of fun – and doing a lot of work – this week in Austin, TX where we’re running Game Developers Conference Online 2011 to some significant degree of success, woo.

Along the way, we recognized that GDC Online was a place where a lot of those who make the world’s top social video games (The Sims Social, Cityville, etc) congregate. And a lot of children and teens have opportunity to play video games as part of their regular use of the Internet.

To get across the message that kids need to be educated on some of the dangers of interacting with people and content online. So we partnered with The Majesty Of Colors indie creator Gregory Weir and non-profit Web Wise Kids to make an advocacy video game for charity – just for them. (We also donated $1,000 directly to them.)

Passing The Ball, which anyone can play if they have Flash installed on their browser – is much more of an short allegorical video game than anything else. But it promotes Web Wise Kids as an organization and a place you can donate, and specifically pushes the message that no one party can be responsible for a kid’s safety – it needs to be the joint responsibility of both parents and children.

The game also fits into one of my goals – that video games be seen as something beyond purely mindless entertainment, This is a stereotype that our industry has been fighting for a while. All creative industries go through this (see: previous panics over ‘penny dreadful’ books and 1950s comics) – and everyone needs to do their part to ensure games are seen in a much broader context.

And I’m delighted that the game is now up on NewGrounds, and is getting some really nice comments from people who seem to ‘get’ it.

(And if you want to know more about GDC Online, check out the coverage on Gamasutra and the Game Developers Choice Online Awards streaming on GameSpot/YouTube.)

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