Can Video Games Teach Values?

Nicole Lazzaro, Founder and President of XEODesign, Inc., has twenty years of expertise in Player Experience Design (PXD) for mass-market entertainment products. Voted by Gamasutra as one of the Top 20 women working in video games, and cited by Wired, Fast Company, CNET, ABC News, The Hollywood Reporter, and Red Herring, her clients include Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Sega, PlayFirst, The Cartoon Network, Disney, Lucas Arts, Nickelodeon, LeapFrog, Mattel, Monolith, Xfire, D.I.C.E, Leap Frog, Ugobe, The Learning Company, Broderbund, Roxio, Cisco, Go Pets, Sierra Online, and Maxis. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Stanford University, where she also studied film making and computer programming.

Since founding XEODesign in 1992 Nicole's design and research has improved over 40 million player experiences, including several popular franchises for casual audiences such as three of the Myst Series, Diner Dash, GoPets, Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover, Mavis Beacon teaches Typing, Jeopardy Online, as well as creativity coaching for the designers of The Sims.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: How have you attempted to integrate social values into video games?

Nicole Lazzaro:  Absolutely.  Yeah, so Tilt is a game, and basically it’s Tilt Flip's Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions and it’s an experience on the iPhone.  What we’ve done is the story starts with Flip who crawls out of this polluted ooze that was once Shady Glen and decides to take on this toxic green blight cloud by eating carbon out of the air and gathering water and seeds to replant the forest and Flip is just a tiny little lizardy, you know, kind of froggy chameleon kind of character and can really only move and, you know, in four directions, so it can only have four positions and what we did was we created this, so all you do to…  There are no buttons in the game.  All you do is tilt the game.  You just tilt the iPhone to control it and Flip gathers, you know, water and seeds and eats pollution, and what we found is that we wanted to really capitalize on… or give people the opportunity to express themselves kind of like the Powers of 10 video, if you seen that, IAMS animation where you go from really small to being like way out towards Saturn and then go back down again and we wanted to give players the experience of the power of tiny actions, so if I just you know to make a simple choice between say paper and plastic you know today or I turn off my light switch then you actually… those… you want to see how those decisions add up to a global experience of play and so we’ve got a single player layer for the game where you go through 12 scenes or 60 levels to the game and then you can…  all of your Tilt points are geo-coded to where you can earn them.  So you can actually have on a global scale we can have different continents and different regions you know competing and cooperating against each other, so we you know North America going against China and then in the real world we take it one step further where you can actually take…  do an action in the real world like you change your light bulbs and you or… you know you might use your… reduce your carbon footprint or you know and start a recycling program or an educational program and if you were to share that with… on social media with your friends with the tag for the game the game will actually scrape that and you earn credit for it in the game.  So you can basically do stuff in the real world and through the miracle of social media you actually do better in the game.  So we take it all the way up to that… to a real world experience to make the world a better place and it’s all through game play.

Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen


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