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have a place in
MY SENSE IS THAT, IN 2012, IT will once again be asked to do more with less. Given the budgetary constraints, most IT organizations would love to make a big impact without spending a lot of money. Sound too good to be true? Not necessarily.
Bart Perkins is
at Louisville, Ky.-based Leverage
Partners, which helps
well in IT. Contact
him at BartPerkins@
Universities, nongovernmental organizations
and charities must frequently address difficult
problems with limited resources. For answers,
many have turned to a new genre of video games
known as “games that change the future” or
“games with a purpose.” Players immerse themselves in complex issues — energy shortages, revolutions, famines and pandemics, to name a few —
and work out the best ways to address them. But
such games also have a place in corporations.
According to Asi Burak, co-president of the
nonprofit Games for Change, many of the most
successful games do one or more of the following:
Crowdsource creative solutions. In 2010, a
World Bank-sponsored game called Evoke challenged players to develop solutions to intractable
problems such as water shortages, poverty and
disaster relief. The best ideas were discussed at
the Evoke Summit. Top players received public
recognition, mentoring by social innovators and
seed funding for their ideas.
A similar game might address “big data” issues,
challenging players to discover innovative approaches to managing, searching, processing and
visualizing the data. Players could also suggest
new uses for the data.
Expand game designers’ boundaries. FoldIt
players solve 3D puzzles. Scientists analyze
gamers’ approaches to pattern matching to
improve computer-generated algorithms for predicting how protein “folds” into 3D structures.
A similar game could solicit ideas for implementing green IT and allow players to review
proposed designs for possible improvements.
Raise players’ awareness. Game design-
ers attempt to change players’ perspectives on
entrenched issues by placing gamers in important
roles. PeaceMaker players assume the role of
Israel’s prime minister or Palestine’s president.
Players make security, construction and political
decisions, and address unexpected consequences.
Each leader must maintain the approval of the
populace, the U.N., the Arab world and the U.S.