Why We Need a Corporation for Public Gaming

WHY WE NEED A CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC GAMING
[SOURCE: Serious Games Source, AUTHOR: David Rejeski, Woodrow Wilson International Center]
[Commentary] The best kept secret in the world of computer and video games is the rise of a movement of gamers dedicated to applying games to serious challenges such as education, training, medical treatment, or better government. The Serious Games movement is in many ways today’s equivalent of yesterday’s advocates for non-commercial, educational TV, who knew that the potential of the medium was unrealized and went far beyond pure entertainment. With small amounts of foundation money, and a lot of sweat equity and ingenuity, advocates of serious games are getting products built and used. The interactive nature of games, their ability to present complex and dynamic information, and, increasingly, to allow thousands of people to meet in sophisticated virtual environments means games can accomplish what TV never could in terms of addressing educational and social challenges. However, serious games, like serious TV, are likely to remain a sidebar in the history of mass media. Non-commercial television floundered, despite millions of dollars of investment by the Ford Foundation, until the government stepped in and created a viable and long-lasting alternative. With similar vision and foresight, and a relatively small amount of funding, this could happen with video and computer games. A Corporation for Public Gaming (CPG) could be established that would operate on a model similar to its broadcasting equivalent, providing grants to develop a diversity of games for the public good. Like CPB, the goal of the CPG would be to provide high-quality games, which “inform, enlighten and enrich the public.” A $15 million annual investment would be made for a three-year period with a review conducted at the end of year three followed by recommendations for continuance, modification, or termination of the program. Grants would be made available to qualified non-profits who could partner with commercial game developers, universities, museums, schools, or government entities. All grants would require a 15 percent set aside to support a rigorous evaluation of the game’s impact. A portion of the overall funding would go to universities to conduct research on how to improve the content, impact, and evaluation of such games. An alternative model would be to support serious games within the existing Corporation for Public Broadcasting, by increasing the appropriation and changing the allocation formula from the 75-25 percent split between television and radio to one that reflected the additional funding for games. Granted, it would take vision and courage to create such an entity, especially today when the concept of public broadcasting has become politicized and compromised. But without such a commitment to serious games, we may find that in twenty years we have managed to create another “vast wasteland” out of a promising new mass medium.
http://seriousgamessource.com/features/feature_041106_public_gaming.html


Why We Need a Corporation for Public Gaming