America 2049: Why Human Rights Is More Than A Game

IN THE FACEBOOK-BASED GAME “AMERICA 2049,” SOCIAL ACTIVISM-MEETS-’24’, all in the name of building awareness for human rights issues. The creators hope players will see human rights as more than just a game.

The global human rights organization Breakthrough developed the game and populated it with well-known celebs and stars (Victor Garber, Harold Perrineau) who act out the “story”: over 12 weeks, players take on missions dealing with immigration, race, sexual orientation, sex trafficking, religion, labor, and national security.

The nonfiction, issues-related part of the game comes through the involvement of groups who are members of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

Will this social conscience aspect add or detract from the game experience? And can it make a difference in the real world?

Social justice and video games is nothing new, but with the proliferation of social media the idea of games for social impact keeps gaining momentum.

Social justice games have been the subject of a panel at the SXSW Festival. Breakthrough was also in attendance this past weekend at the National Conference for Media Reform panel on fan communities and social change.

And there is always old guard Games For Change, who will host its eighth annual conference this June in New York.

But leveraging the power and prevalence of Facebook with a game is an intriguing idea. There’s certainly potential for Facebook users to raise awareness for a cause.

The subject of human rights is not one that ignites a fire under those people who are more interested in Angry Birds or Call of Duty. Do either of those two games make one think about, say, food insecurity or the effects of war?

The fact is people already use Facebook to bring attention to a cause or issue. We all know Facebook has even been credited with a revolution (see: Egypt). Aren’t those who want to make a social impact already doing so, without the help of a game?

Will a Facebook-tied game make you more aware of an issue if it comes in the form of entertainment? Judge for yourself: