Can Game Developers Succeed Where Teachers Failed?

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Games
Tags: , , , , ,

The title might make you think this is about educational games, but its not. This is about a far more important question, can game developers force boys and girls to play together nicely? Everything I remember from elementary school says this is an impossible task, but maybe Nival can solve this problem, with their new game Prime World.

Details about this game are scarce, but after visiting several different sites I managed to piece together a fairly decent picture, I like to think. Basically they give males a discount for playing male characters and females a discount for playing female characters, and it connects to facebook to verify the gender. So they “strongly encourage” shall we say, people to play as their own gender, and the characters of different genders will have different abilities, which will encourage people to form teams with characters of both genders.

Now there are a lot of different reasons for people to be against this idea. People play characters of different genders for all sorts of reasons, and having what basically amounts to a penalty for playing as a character of the opposite gender, has upset a lot of people. Since offering player choice should be highest concern of any video game developer I could never support a game that deliberately discourages player choice in this way.

Other than being bad game design its doomed to fail. The first signs of trouble for this plan was that within a couple days of this news being posted on gaming sites, I’ve already seen dozens of comments of people stating their intention to make fake Facebook accounts so they can still get discounts while playing as the opposite gender. If people really don’t want to play with people of different gender they will come up with creative ways to get out of it. I’ve seen children figure out creative ways to avoid the opposite gender and I’m sure teenagers and adults can figure it out as well.

Of there might be some unintended side effects of this policy. Normally when you play online games you don’t really know anyone’s gender for sure, but in this game you know a character’s gender is probably the same as the person’s gender. Expect all sorts of disturbing creeps to flock to this game, and harass girls. I mean, more so than in other online games. I understand creeps harass girls in other online games, but now that the developers have gone out of their way to make everyone’s real gender known to the public, its only going to exacerbate that problem.

Although I will never support this game, and I’m sure they are completely wrong with what they are doing here, I am interested because there is a small chance they might just have some success with their goals of getting boys and girls to play nice together. If this does work, teachers might learn from these game developers. Maybe all assignments that are done in groups, every group that has mixed gender can get an extra 50% on their final mark.

So if there’s any other issues, other than the 0bvious, that creeps and perverts will now harass women because they can’t hide their identities, by pretending to be men, like they sometimes do in other online games. Feel free to leave a comment detailing any other issues you have with this.

  1. Sumanai says:

    I have an issue with it using Facebook. I have my account disabled because I got sick of it e-mailing me, and disabling the e-mail feature might’ve meant that people would’ve assumed I’m aware of what is happening despite never really visiting Facebook properly.

    There’s also the issue that people are being coaxed towards Facebook as it is, and the company behind it doesn’t seem to be populated by nice guys.

    I’m somewhat worried about the game having access to the Facebook account since they might, accidentally or intentionally, reveal players Facebook accounts and make out-of-game harassment easy. Since a lot of creeps don’t care if anyone knows who they are, this doesn’t bite them in the ass at all.

    • maxff says:

      Well the game developers assure us that no personal information will be revealed, except the gender obviously since that’s the point of connecting to Facebook. Of course there are a couple of problems with that, even if they are honest and don’t intend to reveal that information, it would not stop a disgruntled employee from revealing that information just ot discredit the company. A bit unlikely perhaps, but not without precedent. The other thing is that management of the company could change and they decide they don’t really care about privacy and will reveal that information.

      Also even if none of that happens, even revealing a single piece of information is still pretty bad. I know that their plan is to make the game better for females by “encouraging” males to play with them, but its probably going to backfire. Usually you would have no way of knowing what a person’s gender is in real life based on a character in an online game, but now we know exactly which people are female, and the creeps are going to hone in on them.

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