For years, former Vice President Al Gore has been an outspoken advocate for curbing climate change. He has also dabbled in established media, heading up the youth-oriented cable news channel Current TV.
Now, the ex-executive is championing a new form of media: games. Today at the 2011 Games for Change Festival at New York University (as relayed by industry site Gamasutra), Gore delivered a speech, which, contrary to many politicians, celebrated games as a form of expression.
"Games have clearly arrived as a mass medium," Gore said. "This is a very large, extremely significant industry with a wildly diverse and rapidly growing audience of players on all kinds of platforms. We already know the immense power of popular media to illuminate issues that can seem intractable and overly complex, but [through games] can be illuminated and presented to general audiences in a way that invites people to become involved in trying to solve the problems that our society has to solve."
Gore praised socially conscious social games in particular, singling out two FarmVille-like Facebook titles for praise. "It has been very exciting to me to see so many ideas that integrate social good and efforts to make the world a better place into games. … I've been encouraged by recent developments like Trash Tycoon and Oceanopolis, and both have spurred my thinking in this area," he said.
Gore also took a moment to praise Sims creator Will Wright's latest project, the interactive series Bar Karma, which airs on Current TV.
"The aficionados of the games were drawn to create storylines around the games, and [Wright] took that and created a unique piece of software that allows people to create 'story genomes' and then vote on the path the plot takes," said Gore. "Each week, the results of the user votes are given to a production team to develop live programs. It's been very interesting and award winning, and it's been great to get to know Will."