< Back to Blog

Using Digital Games to Teach Real-World Issues (Part 2)

Just like books or documentaries, video games can be powerful learning tools, imparting people with knowledge on various real-world issues! In our previous blog of the same title, we discussed how digital games can address three specific global issues: climate change, the refugee crisis, and water scarcity. Today, we’re continuing the conversation on video games and real-world issues. We’ll explore how games can be used to teach three more critical subjects relevant today: global health and pandemics, political conflicts and diplomacy, and crisis management and disaster preparedness.

via Giphy

Want more insights, interviews, and breaking game-based learning news? Check us out on Facebook and X. Also, be sure to bookmark this post so you can refer back to this list of important games about important subjects whenever you want!

Global Health and Pandemics

The COVID-19 health crisis has underscored the importance of public health education and media literacy. Digital games can play a pivotal role in teaching about global health. Here’s how!

Epidemic Control and Outbreak Management

Games can simulate the spread of infectious diseases and require players to make critical decisions to control outbreaks. This teaches players about epidemiology, the importance of public health measures, and the consequences of different strategies.

As an example, Plague Inc: The Cure is a timely expansion pack for the simulation game Plague Inc: Evolved. In this DLC, players are challenged with saving the world from a deadly global pandemic. Developed with input from world health experts, including organizations like the WHO, CEPI, and GOARN, the game tasks players with managing and controlling the outbreak using various strategies.

In this game, players take on the role of global disease responders. They must dispatch research teams worldwide to find patient zero, track the outbreak’s spread, and support local responses. To control the outbreak, players implement measures such as contact tracing, lockdowns, and border closures while encouraging hygiene practices like handwashing and preparing hospitals to prevent overwhelming patient loads.

Effectively managing the pandemic also involves considering the economic impact and community support. Players can use policies like furlough schemes to gain community consensus and ensure compliance with quarantine measures. Overall, Plague Inc: The Cure provides an immersive experience that highlights the complexities of pandemic response and emphasizes the need for international collaboration in addressing global health threats.

Vaccination Campaigns

Games can also help to illustrate the complexities of vaccination campaigns. Players can take on roles such as public health officials or medical researchers, making decisions about vaccine distribution, prioritization, and addressing vaccine hesitancy.

Antidote COVID-19 is a mobile tower defense game that combines entertainment with education to teach players about the human immune system and the COVID-19 pandemic. In the game, players join Antidote Laboratories as a newly recruited member and become part of the global effort to combat COVID-19 and develop vaccines.

Psyon Games, the developer of Antidote COVID-19, has a history of specializing in vaccine awareness games. With this game, they aim to address vaccine hesitancy, which has been exacerbated by misinformation during the global COVID-19 pandemic. By making reliable information accessible through a widely-used and easy-to-use medium, this game helps combat vaccine hesitancy and promotes public health and safety.

Understanding How Diseases are Spread

Lastly, games can also be used to teach biology, and in the context of health, they can be used specifically to teach about how the human body fights disease.

Pathogen Patrol is an experience created by our friends at Project Lead The Way for the Roblox platform. This experience allows students to dive into the intricacies of diseases by putting them in the shoes of the human immune system, offering a unique way to learn about health.

Players are transported into the body of a sick patient, where they become active participants in the immune system’s response to pathogen invasion. They then assume the role of one of five different white blood cell types, each with its own unique abilities. Their mission is to protect the health of the host by combating pathogens and preventing the spread of disease. Through Pathogen Patrol, students gain an in-depth understanding of the human immune system’s defense mechanisms.

Political Conflicts and Diplomacy

Understanding the intricacies of political conflicts and diplomacy is vital in our interconnected world! Video games offer a dynamic platform for exploring these topics and fostering critical thinking. Read on to learn more.

Conflict Resolution and Diplomacy

Games like the Civilization franchise, for instance, challenge players to manage nations and make strategic decisions. These decisions often involve diplomacy, alliances, and negotiations, providing insight into international relations and conflict resolution.

Civilization VI, the latest game in the series, offers a rich experience that can serve as an effective educational tool for teaching conflict resolution and diplomacy. Within the game, players guide their civilizations through centuries of development, interacting with other civilizations led by historical figures. These interactions range from forming alliances and negotiating peace to managing conflicts and resources.

Through Civilization VI, students can explore the complexities of international relations, diplomacy, and conflict resolution within a controlled environment. They must employ strategic thinking and adaptability to navigate territorial disputes, resource scarcity, and ideological clashes. The game encourages players to develop diplomatic skills by understanding the motivations and goals of other civilizations and making decisions that can lead to either cooperation or conflict. 

International Relations

Some video games focus explicitly on diplomacy and negotiation, allowing players to engage in peace talks, navigate delicate negotiations, and explore the challenges of finding diplomatic solutions to conflicts.

For example, our friends at iCivics, in collaboration with the Council on Foreign Relations and the support of The Peter G. Peterson Fund, developed a web browser and mobile-based game called Convene the Council. This game invites players to step into the shoes of the President of the United States and make foreign policy decisions with the guidance of the National Security Council. 

Through strategic action and decision-making, Convene the Council offers a unique opportunity to learn about political conflicts and diplomacy, delve into the complexities of conflict resolution on an international scale, and engage in peace negotiations.

Crisis Management and Disaster Preparedness

With the increasing frequency of natural disasters and crises, knowing how to prepare for an emergency is a valuable skill. Games can offer training scenarios for crisis management and disaster preparedness, giving educators, students, and their caretakers a piece of mind. 

Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Response

Disaster Master is an educational, graphic novel game that educates players about natural disasters and the actions they can take to mitigate their impact. It specifically focuses on disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions, providing players with a comprehensive understanding of these calamities. 

via ready.gov

Through gameplay, participants gain insights into the nature of various disasters and the critical actions required to reduce their impact. By answering questions and discussing disaster-related scenarios, players learn about preparedness measures, early warning systems, evacuation plans, and other essential aspects of disaster management. 

Emergency Planning and Resilience Building

Games can challenge players to create disaster response plans, build resilient communities, and allocate resources efficiently. These simulations help individuals and organizations prepare for real-life emergencies.

For example, Build a Kit is a web browser-based game that guides players, led by the character Gayle and her friends, through various locations to assemble an emergency kit. As players progress through different scenarios, they are encouraged to search for essential items that should be included in an emergency kit. Along the way, players build a checklist, ensuring they have the necessary supplies for various emergency situations.

via ready.gov

Video games have proven their worth in education, not only by engaging students in traditional subjects like math, English, or history but also by offering experiences that can effectively teach real-world issues. Whether it’s understanding global health and pandemics, navigating political conflicts, or knowing how to prepare in the face of an environmental crisis, the games mentioned above empower learners with the knowledge and skills to tackle the complex challenges of our world.

With games, we can create a more informed and prepared generation. Want to join forces to do just that? Contact us for a free consultation!

More on real-world learning with games:

© 2024 Filament games. All rights reserved.