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Gordon Brown joins a virtual Paris Hilton, a digital Alistair Darling and a simulated Keira Knightley as 3D characters in the SeriousPolicy Game. The downloadable computer game, developed by serious games and educational simulation specialists PlayGen, sees the player on a mission to win Treasury funding for a new policy.

But this isn’t satire. It’s designed as an example of how computer games can be put to serious use - for both citizen engagement and education.

The downloadable computer game has been developed by PlayGen, specialists in ‘Serious Games’ – cutting edge gaming technology used for training and learning purposes.

“We’re showing how you can engage audiences with new ideas through a medium they’re comfortable with – computer games,” says PlayGen’s MD and head developer Kam Memarzia. “Young people have a fundamental expectation of interactivity – we can use that to deliver educational value.”

The website for the game www.seriouspolicy.com - runs the tag line “Democracy is getting your voice heard”. Strategic decisions about media strategy and stakeholder engagement mean the difference between winning or losing in the SeriousPolicy Game.

“We can develop games that involve people in policy development or feed into actual public consultations,” says Memarzia. “And we can use the decisions players make to measure real world attitudes.”

‘Serious Games’ is a concept whose time has come. At the 2007 Virtual Worlds Forum, held last month in London, Lord Puttman called for virtual worlds to "encourage [young people] to exercise those same values and skills we wish to see them exercise in the real world."

Companies like Sun , IBM and BP are increasingly turning 3D virtual world technology to internal corporate use. The United Nations recently launched Food Force, a game that helps people understand the difficulties of dispensing aid to war zones. And in the US police have collaborated with designers to produce “Booze Cruise,” an educational game on the dangers of drink driving .

“Games are really good at illustrating complex situations,” says Memarzia. “And they can reach huge audiences. Food Force has been downloaded by four million players, a number to rival commercial hits like Grand Theft Auto".

Notes to Editors:

The SeriousPolicy Game can be downloaded from www.seriouspolicy.com. The interactive website www.seriouspolicy.com allows users to give feed-back on the game, as well as scenario suggestions for developing the model for engagement in policy and public consultation.

Objective of the Game:

This game was developed to:

1 Demonstrate how political processes and decision making can be brought to life in a fun and interesting way through a virtual world

2 Highlight to players, whether citizens or officials, the importance of public engagement in the decision-making process

PlayGen Ltd

PlayGen’s previous projects have included:

NanoMission, the world's first scientifically accurate interactive 3D learning game based on understanding nanotechnology, which won sponsorship from the Wellcome Trust. Download the games free from http://www.nanomission.org
A virtual reality game teaching innovation strategy to CEOs of leading technology companies, commissioned by a top management consulting firms. Graphics supervision of Time Commanders, the ground breaking BBC TV game show. Virtual universities - virtual tours and photo realistic animations developed for a number of UK universities including, including Oxford, and Cambridge.

For further information see PlayGen.Com

Kam Memarzia - PlayGen Ltd MD

Kam Memarzia is an industry recognised interactive media expert and award winning developer. An architect by training, he wrote his first computer game for fun at the game of twelve. He is deeply passionate about creating accessible and engaging games and simulations for learning and training.

Political Context of the Game

The Prime Minister has called for new ways of reaching out so that voices outside normal political processes get heard. Ed Milliband has set out a vision for democratic renewal which involves “understanding the ways in which people can get involved and being willing to undertake experiments in democracy as we seek to engage people”.

Potential Role of Games in the Political Process

The SeriousPolicy Game took PlayGen Ltd just two weeks to make and cost less than £10K. That demonstrates how games offer excellent value for the delivery of a high impact message straight into people’s homes. For little more than the cost of publishing a glossy document, or holding a couple of focus groups with a handful of people a game can be developed that can potentially reach tens of thousands. Moreover the interactivity of games provides novel ways to measure, test and engage with public opinion as well as to act as educational tools. And once developed, a game scenario can be easily adapted and replicated through countless forums.

Virtual Worlds Forum Europe 2007

The Virtual Worlds Forum Europe 2007 Oct 25-28) saw 450+ attendees from 23 countries, including 80 speakers, meet for four days of workshops, conference and expo. Lord Puttman and Lord Triesman were keynote speakers. See http://virtualworldsforum.com/

Note on Serious Games

The Serious Games medium has recently gained heavy-weight intellectual backing from Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. Ferguson has credited a World War II strategy game with revising his views on the origins of the war. "Serious games are the next big platform," he said recently.

See: www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/commentary/games/2007/05/...

For further information on the Serious Policy Game and PlayGen Ltd contact Kam Memarzia:

phone: 020 7739 3285
email: press@playgen.com

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of PlayGen Ltd in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Entertainment & Arts, Leisure & Hobbies, Education & Human Resources, Media & Marketing, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.