Thanks to Paul for the pointer to this video presentation by Jane McGonigal
at the New Yorker's Stories from the Near Future conference.
I'd like to discuss some of the things Jane says, if anyone is up for that. She is talking about Alternate Reality Games specifically, but most of it is relevant to analogue games like story gamjes as well.
I noted down what she said about immersion: "Gameplay is about immmersion [but] it's not about immersing yourself in a story or character or graphics or fantasy, it's actually about immersing yourself in an interactive system and your engagement with that system, and your engagement with other people playing games, that's the core focus of gameplay."
About games in general: "Games can be a contructive response to social problems - we could create games that try to address a social problem."
And lastly: "We play them because when we play we are not suffering."
Now, the marxist deeply embedded in my mind is slightly wary of the last quote - this means games are a potential suppressive method, but perhaps that's over-reacting.
Comments are welcome, also examples of story games that actually address social problems and how (Steal Away Jordan and Shock springs immediately to mind).