Save the world, get the girl. A tried and tested formula for video games dating all the way back to the arcades. Sometimes though a game comes along that flips the formula and aims to give back to the world that created it.
These games are developed with a clear message or goal intended for the betterment of mankind. In this modern era of season passes, deluxe editions and microtransactions its important to remember some games aren’t made purely for profit.
Take a moment to consider these five games that tried to save our world for a change.
Change: A Homeless Survival Game
Survival games were all the rage a few years back with popular hits like ARK: Survival evolved. Some major studios like Konami and Bethesda returned to the well for their respective Metal Gear and Fallout sequels this year.
Both games arrived too late to ride the trend but there was another indie addition to the genre this year that was worthwhile. Change: A Homeless Survival Game puts the player in the shoes of a homeless person. Players must find food and shelter to stave off death in the hopes of one day finding a way off the streets.
To do that though, they’ll have to beg random passersby for money, most of which will likely ignore them. The game aimed to offer an empathetic view of the increase in homelessness to encourage others to give more. A percentage of all sales also went towards homeless charities.
Sea Hero Quest
Sea Hero Quest attempted to take the freemium model of mobile gaming a put it towards a good cause. Using a structure of simple, satisfying gameplay and persistent meaningless appraisals to encourage further exploration.
That’s because developers Glitchers hope the game will help us understand diseases like Alzheimers and Dementia. In Sea Hero Quest the player sails a labyrinthal sea helping reclaim a father’s lost memories. Memories are conveyed by sea monsters that need to be located on the map.
The various routes players take are recorded and turned into a heat map data. That data is then forwarded to research centres displaying the ways the mind works when memorising locations and routes. The more players, the more data and the closer those researchers come to understanding the fundamentals of memory loss.
Apart Of Me
Child psychologist Louis Weinstock founded Bounce Works to create and engaging way for children to heal. The studios first game Apart Of Me is currently in development and aims to target grief.
The game features a young hero exploring an island hub and completing several objectives. Amongst those are creating a memory box of loved ones and sharing in the stories of others. All stories in the game are real-life testimonies from children who have lost a parent or loved one.
Apart Of Me aims to help the player open up about their own traumatic experiences and find a safe community. Weinstock hopes the game will change the way society helps young people deal with grief. Allowing them to heal more naturally and at their own pace.
Protein folding is a key part of biochemistry that offers incite in how diseases form inside the human body. It also has a medical application in creating ‘designer’ proteins can be used to combat those same diseases.
As such it’s a study that has been ongoing for many years having been assigned to various algorithms. As with most cases of AI though, those algorithms simply cannot match the potential of the human brain. Humans will usually attempt the most sensible possibility first which could shave years off the ongoing research.
That led the UW Department of Biochemistry to release the puzzle game Foldit which does just that. The game is available online and players are tasked with folding proteins into sensible structures. The highest scores from the game are sent back to the UW Department of Biochemistry for further analysation.
The premise of Sleepwalker isn’t a particularly noble one as the game instead aims for quality gameplay. And it offered just that with a novel twist on the platforming genre at the height of its popularity in the early ’90s.
The player controls a dog that must prevent their sleepwalking owner from walking into danger. The player character is invincible and must use that advantage to protect the life bar of the human. Released on several major platforms at the time including the SNES the game was a critical and commercial success.
Sleepwalker was made in conjunction with Comic Relief, with around 20% of all sales going to the charity. The game also came with a sponsorship card which encouraged players to collect sponsors in return for playing the game.