Cati Hernández, Noemí Blanch, Pablo Garaizar, Emiliano Labrador, 428-448, 2022

The article “Seven Levers for Social Change through Games: From Settlers of Catan to Autonomía Zapatista” by Cati Hernández, Noemí Blanch, Pablo Garaizar, and Emiliano Labrador, published in the Gaming Journal, provides a comprehensive analysis of the potential for games to promote social change. The authors argue that games have the power to challenge dominant social norms, promote empathy and understanding, and engage players in critical reflection on social and political issues.

The article begins by providing an overview of the current state of the games industry and its potential as a tool for social change. The authors highlight the fact that games have become increasingly popular and accessible in recent years, and that they have the potential to reach diverse audiences across different age groups, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The authors then introduce their framework for understanding how games can promote social change, which they refer to as the “seven levers.” These levers include:

  1. Awareness-raising: Games can be used to raise awareness of social and political issues and to encourage players to engage with these issues in meaningful ways.
  2. Empathy-building: Games can promote empathy and understanding by allowing players to step into the shoes of others and experience different perspectives.
  3. Challenge of dominant narratives: Games can challenge dominant social norms and narratives by presenting alternative visions of the world and encouraging players to question the status quo.
  4. Creativity and imagination: Games can encourage creativity and imagination by providing players with opportunities to experiment with different possibilities and to imagine new worlds and possibilities.
  5. Collaboration and collective action: Games can promote collaboration and collective action by encouraging players to work together towards common goals and to develop shared strategies for social change.
  6. Critical reflection: Games can engage players in critical reflection by encouraging them to question their assumptions and to examine the underlying social, cultural, and political structures that shape their experiences.
  7. Participatory design: Games can be designed in participatory ways that involve players in the process of creation and encourage them to take ownership of the game and its message.

The authors then provide a series of case studies to illustrate how these levers can be applied in practice. These case studies include examples from a range of different games, including Settlers of Catan, Minecraft, and Autonomía Zapatista.

Overall, the article makes a valuable contribution to the field of games studies by providing a comprehensive framework for understanding the potential of games to promote social change. The authors’ focus on the seven levers offers a useful guide for game developers, scholars, and activists who are interested in using games as a tool for social change. The case studies also offer concrete examples of how these levers can be applied in practice, highlighting the diversity and potential of games as a medium for social and political activism


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