One of the less expected evangelists for the video game medium spoke out at the 2011 Games for Change Festival, hosted at New York University. Former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech (via Gamasutra) on how the industry has arrived as a mass medium, and thus now holds great opportunity for spurring change.
“Games have clearly arrived as a mass medium,” said Gore. “This is a very large, extremely significant industry with a wildly diverse and rapidly-growing audience of players on all kinds of platforms. We already know the immense power of popular media to illuminate issues that can seem intractable and overly-complex, but [through games] can be illuminated and presented to general audiences in a way that invites people to become involved in trying to solve the problems that our society has to solve.”
Never one to slight platforms on the hardware/casual divide, Gore devoted a chunk of his speech to the possibilities of Facebook and iOS games.
“Now we’ve arrived at a point where it’s safe to say that games are the new norm for hundreds of millions of users every month,” he explained. “Game interfaces and scoring rules have become standard… the gamification trend is really, extremely powerful, and you see games dominating the top lists of apps on Facebook and iOS. And games are becoming increasingly artful; it’s now a craft taught in universities and trade schools, and we all know that learning by doing is one of the best ways to learn.”
“What we’re seeing in games is art at a world-class stage design that is almost unmatched anywhere else,” Gore added. “It has been very exciting to me to see so many ideas that integrate social good and efforts to make the world a better place into games.”
Vice President Gore also left himself open to future collaborations within the medium, having already worked on an interactive television series with Sim Everything creator Will Wright for Current TV.
“I’ve been encouraged by recent developments like Trash Tycoon and Oceanopolis, and both have spurred my thinking in this area. In closing, I want to say that I’d love to work with any teams that are interested in making games that are focused on solutions to the climate crisis. I look forward to getting to know this community better,” he concluded. “You give me cause for tremendous hope.”