The use of narrative is well known as an effective technique for communication. We are fundamentally set-up to respond to stories, and where we might not respond to simple statement of facts, we are more likely to respond to something which moves us emotionally. I see games as an extension of this, and a form of story-telling where the narrative itself is not pre-determined. This is what makes games so fun, so exciting, and so powerful.
A story puts you inside someone else’s head, hearing their thoughts and motivations, and through this you might understand, or even sympathises, with their decisions. Games put you in their shoes, experiencing something of their experience and making decisions from their view point. In reality, I bemoan the Government’s cutting of public services, yet when I play Cities: Skylines I do the same myself to make the books balance.
As a Geoscientist researching flood risk and resilience, when communicating my science I have to deal with issues of uncertainty, and decision making when there is not a clear right or wrong answer. Games offer an ideal forum to do this. This is why I am very excited to be convening the first ever, and totally unofficial, Games Day at the European Geoscience Union’s (EGU) 2018 General Assembly on April 11th in Vienna, Austria.
The Games Day will feature a traditional scientific programme – a session of talks, and a session of posters – where researchers share their games-based work with each other. At the end of the day we’ll be hosting the Geoscience Games Night for people to bring, share and play games of all types, just as long as they have some link to geoscience. If you’re attending EGU this year, why not pop along? If you’re not, follow me on Twitter or the hashtag #EGU18 for updates and videos.