*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.
I have been been trying to find balance in my roles as a teacher and a learner during my self exploration of Games and Learning. My teacher side wants to identify best practices that I can use with my students. I feel that I have let this piece of my identity drive most of my exploration of games and learning texts and because through this exploration I have found some interesting insights to guide my teaching practice going forward. As a learner I want to take a step away from my teaching practice and look at how games are being played in areas outside of elementary education. This week I was committed to take off the teacher hat and let the another aspect of my life guide me when finding a game article to critique.
One aspect of my life that has recently become a larger factor is political activism. American values, as I see them, are under attack in an effort to shift away from acceptance or empathy in society. More than ever before I find myself sharing my views and trying to raise awareness in both physical and digital spaces. This week I decided to look at both my activism and games, inspired in part from a tweet from my professor sharing games to play at political rallies and marches.
I found a Huffington Post article, by author James Michael Nichols, showcasing a new video game released, by an independent developer Aquma. This game blew my mind. Released as a response to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and International Organization for the Family’s (IOF) “Free Speech” Bus. In a nutshell the “Free Speech” Bus uses the sides of a bus to share messages of binary gender assignments at birth. The new game, Intolerance Fighter II Tour Bus, gives the player a chance to respond to the intolerance of this moving billboard by simulating the destruction of this object hate – it lets you beat the snot out of the intolerance mobile, Street Fighter style!
Intolerance fighter is a remix of the car crunching mini game from Street Fighter II with the “Free Speech” Bus replacing the original car. I loved the car crunching mini game because it gave players an opportunity to practice button combinations to create specialized attacks that could be used against game opponents. The remix gives users the chance to vent frustrations about intolerance in a simulated environment, without the repercussions of physical property damage.
The bus in the physical world takes the constitutionally protected freedom of speech to attack the realities of Americans that don’t fit into the concepts of binary gender assignment, held by ignorant or intolerant groups like NOM or IOF. Giving those people the chance to vent frustrations in a simulation is awesome. The digital destruction of the bus protects users from legal repercussions and gives the opportunity to focus on the intolerance being spread by the bus and not shifting focus on the damage done by vandalism.
The question could be asked if this type of video game activism vandalism will lead to increased vandalism in the physical world. Now it is true that the “Free Speech” Bus had been met with protests and vandalism in its stops across the country. The New York Times recently ran a piece that pointed out that violent media, like video games, are one factor in many that lead to physical world violence, but not the major factor. The Huffington Post article gives the game creator a platform to remind readers that this game, like other games and novels, is a work of fiction and that the violence prorated is merely a metaphor for releasing the anger that stems from intolerance towards specific cultures, communities and humans in general.