On October 13, the National Center for Media Engagement hosted a webinar exploring new public media gaming. As we've reported previously, gaming is an increasingly popular tool for civic engagement and community building.
WYEP has formed a partnership with a gaming company Skill Life, Inc to experiment with community engagement. The success of using this strategy, they explained could partially be gauged by the popularity of the game, first named CentsCity and now renamed MoneyIsland. CentsCity is “an online virtual world where students learn financial literacy." An interesting aspect of the game is that the player’s financial prowess in the virtual world of the game can even translate to real world rewards, like music downloads. The founder of the company that created the game was also present and he applauded the “culture of a radio station that allows [staff] to step back & use another platform to engage with their community”. WYEP’s outreach was mostly with schools and summer programs and minimally on-air. Station staff members have gathered anecdotal information suggesting that the game drew new listeners to their station.The game has now been bought by another company and customized for certain banks nationwide to reach and educate their young customers.
The second topic addressed in the webinar focused on awards being offered by Joan Ganz Cooney Center to encourage game development. The Center wants to encourage game development aimed at motivating America’s youth to learn concepts related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in a fun way. Gabrielle Clayton-Hodges from the Cooney Center advised using more accessible technologies and platforms that are needed to play these games, though she noted that web and mobile access are now on the rise. She mentioned that games especially are more far reaching if they can be played on a regular cell phone or via SMS, rather than only on a more expensive smart phone. A webinar commenter also mentioned a Pew report published in 2008 which documented the rise in the use of regular and smart phones among Latino and Black youth.
NCME is now holding such events on a bi-monthly basis, covering all kinds of topics at the interesection of public media, technology and community. See here for additional webinars. You can also visit the archive of their past webinars here.