There’s this badass game I’ve been excited to hear about lately: “America 2049”, which showcases how much better Facebook gaming can be than all that “Farmville” crap. (I don’t mean to be elitist, but, like, really. One game designer I know refers to players of “Farmville”-esque games as “victims”.) I haven’t played it, but word is that “America 2049” involves legitimately engaging puzzles and codes … and real-life tie-in events, which I’m always psyched about. And it’s especially awesome because it’s about social justice. Here’s a profile on Huffington Post; here’s an interview with the company owner and lead actor on Salon; and a more detailed synopsis of the game on the Alternate Reality Gaming Network. Snip from the ARGNet synopsis:
In “America 2049”, the former land of the free has degenerated into the Divided States of America, where sexuality, religion, speech and culture are all controlled and restricted. On the upside: the entire population is on a drug that inhibits aggressive behavior called SerennAide, administered automatically through the water supply. This has led to a decrease in crime rates, an increase in the population’s happiness, and has purportedly helped people to rise above their worst impulses.
Depending on where you stand, this is either a Utopian dream or an Orwellian nightmare. And it is up to you to decide where you stand: alongside the Council for American Heritage (CAH), or with Divided We Fall (DWF).
Snip from Salon:
The game stars a slew of celebrities like Harold Perrineau (“Lost”), Victor Garber (“Alias”), Cherry Jones (“24”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”) and Margaret Cho. The trailer invites you to look at a world not that far in the future, where civil liberties and social justice just aren’t in the lexicon. “America 2049” explains that you are a special agent working for the Council on American Heritage, with a mission to capture a Ugandan terrorist Ken Asaba (Perrineau) who has recently escaped from an internment camp and may be a carrier for a deadly disease.
The game has a story arc that’s been more than halfway unlocked already, but you can join at any time. I’ve also heard that Breakthrough, the parent company, has been nominated for some awards. Snip from a Breakthrough email:
We're nominated for a Favorite Website Award (FWA), a Katerva Award (stay tuned, we will be listed on their website shortly), and a Games for Change Award! We first attended Games for Change in 2008, to show our video game ICED – I Can End Deportation, the first 3D video game on immigration, and then again in 2009 to show, End Homeland Guantanamos, our interactive experience on inhumane immigrant detention centers. Now, “America 2049” has been nominated for a Games for Change Award for Transmedia! These awards recognize excellence in "games for change" that address current and/or pressing social issues or aim to produce sustainable and positive impact on society.
Here’s how Breakthrough describes itself:
Breakthrough is a global human rights organization that uses the power of media, pop culture, and community mobilization to inspire people to take bold action for dignity, equality, and justice.
I love these folks. Keep up the good work.