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“Gaming to increase civic engagement”

May 30th, 2017

Video games are a well-established part of popular culture. Musa Temidayo, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, takes a look at a soon-to-be-launched video game that harnesses the fun of gaming to encourage youth involvement in civic democracy.

The road to increasing youth participation in governance is not a one-way street. Gaming is another tool that can increase the participation of youth in today’s governance and get them ready to lead the next generation. A growing body of research is investigating the link and impact of video games on youth in relation to civic engagement and good governance.

The name “video game” encompasses a scope of human/machine experience including computer-based games, mobile, online games played on the Internet, and console games such as XBOX360, PlayStation, and Wii. Let us simply put it that any game with a user interface and a monitor screen may be considered a video game.

Playing video games is a popular activity amongst young people, with a potential to promote social and civic engagement. Virtually all teens and youth play computer, console, or cell phone games, and that gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement. If you take a random poll of about twenty individuals between the ages of 12 and 35 years of age, it will be surprising to see that almost all of them will have one game they love so much and half of them are addicted to playing it. It is also surprising to know that a greater percentage of girls play a type of game. The question on your mind is how will playing a game increase civic participation in governance?

There is a part in the brain where all memory and skills are stored. When a person plays video games, it can affect how they act towards real life situations. The video games can affect and can manipulate the mind to have certain mind set, and that helps with how the brain process and analyzes it.

In Nigeria, a civil society organization called Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) is using this tool to teach people, especially youths, about governance and civic engagement around issues that improve good governance. The game, Your Excellency,  will take a mobile game format and serve as a learning tool for people on governance, structures, processes and activities with a key highlight on the role of citizens in improving governance and engaging in governance process.

A highlight of the game reveals that it is a story-based game with multiple scenarios to present the players with challenges that crop up in governance which they need to solve. Many of the scenarios will be drawn from real life events so that players can connect more with these issues. Another cool feature of this game is that it has a rating system based on popularity, task completed, budget management, revenue creation, time transparency and accountability which will determine the qualification of players for the next level of the game.

Also, there will be an online community forum which will be connected to the game, where players can have discussions on governance issues sparked by the game. It also gives an opportunity for players to raise and create public awareness on social issues that interest them, form coalitions on Facebook and WhatsApp, and discuss strategies on how to go about engaging decision makers on the issue.

“Video games are the future. From education and business, to art and entertainment, our [game] industry brings together the most innovative and creative minds to create the most engaging, immersive and breathtaking experiences we’ve ever seen. The brilliant developers, designers and creators behind our games have and will continue to push the envelope, driving unprecedented leaps in technology impacting everyday life for years to come.” —Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO, Entertainment Software Association

With the game set to launch by September, “Your Excellency” aims to increase youth awareness, knowledge and discourse on governance through gaming.

Let the games begin!

photo credit: dennis.grailich Generations via photopin (license)

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About me: I am an education and research enthusiast and essayist who studied International Relations at Obafemi Awolowo University.

Once upon a time, I was the Editor-in-Chief for DIPLOMAG.

I am an Ambassador for A world At School (UK), Director of Advocacy for Organization of African Youth for Development & Peace and also belongs to several bodies with a great passion for education advocacy, human rights and youth development.

I am also the fictional leader of #Taylor-swift’s fan in Nigeria.

You can reach me on email: musatemidayo@yahoo.com

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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