Carolyn M. Cunningham is an Associate Professor in the Communication and Leadership Studies program at Gonzaga University. She is the author of Games Girls Play: Contexts of Girls and Video Games (Lexington Books, 2018). Her research and teaching investigate the intersections of gender, technology, and leadership.
Heather M. Crandall is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies at Gonzaga University. Her research interests include visual rhetoric and social change, media literacy, and communication pedagogy. Currently, she is the pedagogy editor of Explorations in Media Ecology and serves on the board of the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.
Video games are often seen as a medium for entertainment. However, there is an emerging genre of video games that are designed to raise awareness about important social issues like poverty, immigration, and war. These games use persuasive strategies for engaging communities in conversations about human rights issues. This paper provides analyses of the educational strategies of twenty-one human rights video games on the Games For Change website. Our analysis reveals that the ways these games increase cognition, increase empathy and teach affective responses, as well as teach players how to participate in social change processes, serve to educate for behavioral change. Through this medium, players are immersed in simulations which give them a language to not only understand the dynamics at play in issues such as deportation, but also offers players insight into how to change these dynamics and why it is important.