Most cause and educational game developers began creating games due to their personal commitment to the cause (Oda), their desire to change something in the educational system of the country (White; Norton) or their desire to improve a situation, such as with political manipulations surrounding the redistricting issue (Swain). As White puts it:
…we really like the idea of designing games that inspire people to kind of transfer the experiences that they have had in the game into the real world or professional practice…
When speaking about their personal commitment to the cause, developers were certain that it may take years before public that plays video games would take real action. The developers acknowledged this fact.
Getting to the point of taking action is …a multistep process. You…[as a public] should be exposed to the idea numerous times, in numerous different contexts before it kind of becomes an active part of your consciousness. I think that the key difference is having this embodied experience (White).
The game developers who are creating games because they feel driven to do so carry out the function of new media opinion leaders when presenting games to the public. Developers of cause video games are opinion leaders who distribute their views on a particular issue. Moreover, White sees the overarching goal of any cause video game to inspire “somebody to do something in the real world.” Personal commitment plays a crucial role when talking about development of educational or persuasive video games. As White argues:
there is not a huge demand [for both educational and serious games], which is why this space is still emerging, which is why there is not a lot of large companies making educational games. It is something that is still in the periphery of the game development sphere.
When talking about current trends in the field, Schreiber, who is both a game designer and an educator, noticed that graduate students were more prone to create games to promote causes than undergraduate students. The explanation for this phenomenon in the field is the following:
Undergraduates are looking for a job on the market; thus, they think in terms of “How do I make a game?” and not “How do I advance the field?” Graduate students in the field of game design, on the other hand, have more intrinsic interest in answering the question: “How can I change the world?” (Schreiber).
In summary, this chapter identified several themes that emerged from the interviews with the developers, including the stigma attached to the industry, a personal commitment on the part of developers, the controversy surrounding definitions, the development of games that are compelling, and the persuasive appeal of the game.
These themes are important because they reveal how they see the role of games and their role as developers. The thesis now looks at the stories the games tell the players, as revealed through narrative analysis. Identifying the themes developed out of the narrative analysis and the deconstruction of the games, makes it possible to compare perspectives and reconcile differences.