Back from Sundance (or: "informative" vs. "educational")

We just came back from the Sundance Film Festival after sitting on a panel on independent video games. The response of the audience to the idea of positive/independent/serious games was excellent and we got a lot of traffic on our websites (10x than the usual). At the same time, it seems to me that we’re only at the beginning of the struggle with perception and conventions.

For one thing, I can’t understand why a meaningful game like “PeaceMaker” is automatically labeled as an “educational simulation”. Yes, it may be a great tool in the classroom, but why not beyond that? PeaceMaker should be treated as a non-fiction book, a graphic novel (eg “Maus”) or a social impact documentary (eg “An Inconvenient Truth”). These are consumed by the mainstream. Yes, they are informative and serious but thanks to the maturity of the medium they became part of our leisure time. People watch TV news and learn about the world. No one calls this an “educational experience”. I really hope that video games will soon achieve the same level of maturity and acceptance so we can really break the boundaries of “fun and shallow”.

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