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Liveblogging Al Gore's Games for Change Keynote

Illustration for article titled Liveblogging Al Gores Games for Change Keynote

Former vice president Al Gore addresses the Games for Change summit today, kicking off three days of discussion about making games for social impact.


Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management and co-founder and chairman of Current TV. He also did that whole Vice President of the United States thing.

While it isn't clear what Gore will be talking about during his keynote, it wouldn't be surprising if he drifted into a discussion of climate protection, a subject he's devoted much of his post-vice presidency championing.


Our own Stephen Totilo is on-site covering Gore's talk. Follow us and it live below. The rest of three-day summit will be livestreamed starting tomorrow. We're told Gore's talk won't be.

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Al Gore is talking about designing games organized around progressive issues. That doesn't mean that he thinks that all games should work that way. The few games he produces won't overshadow the entertainment value of the many other games in the field.

But, beyond that, there's no reason why entertainment can't be political. It, like comedy, like literature, often is, whether overtly in the depictions of governments (Modern War) or understated in the procedures of the game (Tetris as an expression of Soviet utility, Sim City as an expression of urban logic). The problem is when people believe that entertainment has to be either entirely useful or entirely useless. The first treats it as propaganda. The second treats it as utterly naive. Entertainment has messages, codes, rules, procedures, images, and other levels of mediation that make them. At their highest potential, games can be taken as utter leisure-sport, objects of hypothetical exploration, and expressions of a number of views at the same time. Great games don't always have to be political, but a conscious avoidance of political or other issues shouldn't be the point either. Summarily, entertainment is capable of more than one message at a time.

So, I'm hopeful that Games for Change will get that designing a game to fit a single message won't work.