Gordon Brown And Paris Hilton Meet In Serious Policy Computer Game

Gordon Brown joins a virtual Paris Hilton, Alistair Darling and Keira Knightley as 3D characters in the downloadable SeriousPolicy Game ( http://www.seriouspolicy.com ). Developed by educational simulation specialist, PlayGen, the computer game sees the player on a mission to win Treasury funding for a new policy.

But this isn’t satire. SeriousPolicy is designed as an example of how computer games can be put to use for both citizen engagement and education. With its clever blend of fun and seriousness, it encourages flagging public engagement in political processes and is an ideal tool for winning over Britain's younger voters - especially with Ms Hilton in situ.

PlayGen’s MD and head developer, Kam Memarzia, says:“Young people are largely disengaged from politics these days. We’re showing how to engage audiences with new ideas through a medium they’re comfortable with– i.e. computer games. Young people have a fundamental expectation of interactivity and we can use that to deliver educational value, and enjoyment too.”

He adds:“We can develop games that involve people in policy development or feed into actual public consultations. And the decisions players make can be used to measure real world attitudes". Accordingly, the game runs with the strapline,‘democracy is getting your voice heard’.

In SeriousPolicy, the player can receive advice from Tony Blair and David Cameron, annoy Alistair Darling or be congratulated by the PM. Along the way, the player wanders through a virtual Members’ Lobby at the Houses of Parliament, pops over to a simulated HM Treasury, and is summoned to a stunningly realistic digital Number 10. Meanwhile, a Paris Hilton lookalike provides light relief and the MC bears more than a passing resemblance to Keira Knightley.

At the‘Virtual Worlds Forum Europe 2007’, held in London last month, Lord Puttman called for virtual worlds to "encourage to exercise those same values and skills we wish to see them exercise in the real world”.

Companies such as Sun, IBM and BP are increasingly adapting 3D virtual world technology for internal corporate use. The United Nations recently launched‘Food Force’, a game that helps people understand the difficulties of dispensing aid to war zones. And, in the US , police have collaborated with designers to produce‘Booze Cruise’, an educational game about the dangers of drink driving.

“Serious games are ideal for illustrating complex situations,” says Memarzia.“And they can reach huge audiences.‘Food Force’ has been downloaded by four million players, a number to rival commercial gaming hits such as‘Grand Theft Auto’.”

A selection of high res screenshots from the Serious Policy game can be download from http://www.playgen.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=51&Itemid=101

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Notes for editors

About the SeriousPolicy Game

The SeriousPolicy Game can be downloaded from www.seriouspolicy.com. It was developed to demonstrate how political processes and decision-making can be brought to life in an entertaining and interesting way through a virtual world; and also to highlight to players - whether citizens or officials - the importance of public engagement in the decision-making process.

About PlayGen Ltd

PlayGen is a specialist developer of‘serious games’ with educational value. Previous projects have included: developing an educational game used by Defence; a virtual reality game to teach innovation strategy to CEOs; and games to promote the understanding of nanotechnology, one of which is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. PlayGen also undertook the graphics supervision of the BBC TV game show,‘Time Commanders’, and has created virtual, photo-realistic tours for Oxford, Cambridge, and London universities, amongst others. PlayGen's Kam Memarzia is an industry-recognised interactive media expert and award-winning developer. An architect by training, he wrote his first computer game at the age of 12.

Political context of the game

The Prime Minister has called for new ways of reaching out so that voices outside normal political processes can be heard. Ed Milliband has set out a vision for democratic renewal which involves“understanding the ways in which people can get involved and being willing to undertake experiments in democracy as we seek to engage people”.

Potential role of games in the political process

The SeriousPolicy Game took PlayGen Ltd two weeks to make and cost less than£10K. This demonstrates how games offer excellent value for delivering high impact messages straight into people’s homes. For little more than the cost of publishing a glossy document, or holding a couple of focus groups, a game can potentially reach tens of thousands of people and can be used to measure, test and engage with public opinion, and act as an educational tool. Once developed, a game scenario can easily be adapted and replicated throughout countless forums.

About the 'Virtual Worlds Forum Europe 2007'

The Virtual Worlds Forum Europe 2007 on Oct 23-26 saw 450+ attendees from 23 countries, including 80 speakers, meet for four days. Lord Puttman and Lord Triesman were keynote speakers. See http://virtualworldsforum.com

For further information, please contact:

Kam Memarzia, MD

PlayGen Ltd

Tel: 02077393285 / 07950400065

Email: kam@playgen.com

Site: www.playgen.com


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