Inspired by award-winning game designer Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk, middle schoolers at United Friends School (UFS) in Quakertown, PA, invented their own series of games they hoped would create new habits and foster real collaboration among players—ideas that could transfer into the real world.
“Games for Social Change” began with students examining, playing, and writing reviews about current games that promote empathy, education, and healthy habits. The students then chose to research one subject within the fields of Diversity/Equality, Health and Wellness, or Ecology. Through their studies, they learned skills to reduce global warming, promote equality, reduce bullying in schools, make healthy food choices, and promote community gardens.
Working collaboratively and using programming language tools from Scratch and Snap—which include “building blocks” of code to make the process accessible—teams then designed and created their games. After many tutorials, and trial and error, the project culminated with a “Game Expo” in the school library.
UFS students recognized the importance of using gaming to further educational and philanthropic efforts, falling in line with the school’s progressive educational tradition. Practicing the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and service, they are also learning to develop a sense of responsibility beyond their own community by putting into action a commitment to improve the lives of all.