Your top 5 social impact games of the year!

The votes are finally in for your 5 favorite social impact games of 2010! The fight for the top spot was amazingly close but nonetheless, we were excited to see the hundreds of votes that came in to support the latest games in our space. And so without further ado here are the winners:

#5 Macon Money

Your fifth favorite game is a non-digital, community-based game developed by Area Code and funded by the Knight Foundation. In Macon Money, the Game Masters designed and sent bonds to different parts of the Macon, Georgia area. Recipients from different ethnic, social and economic backgrounds have to creatively collaborate with one another to find the opposite piece of their bond and cash it in together as a team. Once redeemed, both players can use their money at local shops, thus uniting the community and growing their local economy.

To assist players in finding their missing pieces, the game creators offer an online forum on the game website. To date, over $8,000 have been awarded to players and put back into the local economy. Players have been spending their Macon Money to support local apparel shops, restaurants, entertainment and service venues. With over $56,000 still up for grabs, it will be interesting to see how this game evolves during 2011.

#4 People Power

Surprisingly, People Power is the only “traditional” one player game in your top five. Game creator Steve York’s previous game, A Force More Powerful is considered a classic in the space. People Power is the sequel dealing with the concept of non-violent resistance and was created in association with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

Improving and simplifying the formula established in A Force More Powerful, People Power puts you in a the position of a change agent in a small community. In the game, you must recruit people to your cause, seek funds and take a series of actions that raise awareness in various districts. The game simulation helps the player realize that creating their own non-violent movement takes careful planning and recruiting of dedicated team members.

#3 Participatory Chinatown

This game that centers around community involvement was created by the Asian Community Development Corporation, members of the Engagement Game Lab, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and game developer Muzzy Lane. Participatory Chinatown was designed to integrate into the urban planning and development of Boston’s Chinatown. You can play as 15 different characters of varying “classes” and backgrounds and explore the privileges and challenges they face.

This 3D, web based game can be played alone or with other players. As a single player, you can explore the town and comment on different development sites with the specific knowledge you’ve gained through a certain character’s eyes. When playing as a group, the game aims to spark a discussion about how Chinatown’s various projects truly affect different groups.

#2 Interrobang

The community votes put Interrobang so closely under the most favorite game, it was nearly a tie! Interrobang is league based game for middle school and high school honor students. Funded by the Microsoft Partners in Learning Program, Interrobang sends players to complete “missions” that focus on exploring your local environment, helping your community or creating and sharing art.

Missions in Interrobang are crowd sourced. Gameplay is simple: players are first encourage to pick an easy mission to accomplish. Secondly, players are asked to plan and complete a mission with a focus on team collaboration. The third and fourth steps include documenting the process, so you can share it online via blog posts, photo galleries or videos. Players are also rewarded points for suggesting missions and connecting with the Interrobang community.

#1 Evoke

It was interesting to see that a game that promotes real-world action and breaks the boundaries of the digital space comes away with the most votes. Supported by the World Bank and designed by Jane McGonigal, this 10 week long game started in March, 2010 and ended on May 12th.

Evoke urged players all over the globe to solve real-world challenges with a focus on helping communities in Africa. Players were encouraged to learn about development challenges, act upon the knowledge they just gained and then use their creativity to imagine a new future for the planet. Every Wednesday over the 10 week game period, new challenges unlocked for players.  Once players accepted and completed a mission, they were asked to create evidence for their work, via blogs, videos and more. Through the narrative of a comic book like story line, players were tasked to complete such challenges as combating world hunger, using renewable energy, empowering women and creating better access to clean water. To better accomplish their goals, players could use “super powers” such as collaboration, courage, resourcefulness and entrepreneurialism.

Congrats to all the winners, and thanks again for all the votes and incredible participation!

As a bonus, here are the games that came in the respected 6-10 places:

#6 Fate of the World, the second game to tackle global climate issues from UK developer Red Redemption Ltd.

#7 Breakthrough to Cures by the Myelin Repair Foundation is an online idea-generating game that focuses on medical research.

#8 The Cat and the Coup, the indie documentary game created by Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad at USC is not fully available yet but already garners awards and international acclaim.

#9 Wildfire is the 2010 Game Development winner at this year’s Microsoft ImagineCup, created by a small team of students from the Philippines.

#10 Admongo, created by The Federal Trade Commission and the agency Fleishman-Hillard introduces kids 8 – 12 years old to concepts of ad literacy – the ability to understand the who, what and why of advertisements in today’s age of ultra connectivity and mass media.

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Best Social Games of 2010. | AIR

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