A few years ago I was invited to breakfast at the Takapuna Beach Cafe by a friend of mine. The purpose of this breakfast was to introduce me to Ian Howard, a friend of his. I turned up to the breakfast with no particular expectations. However, the conversation we had at the cafe that morning has changed my life’s priorities and I hope it may change yours. During our conversation, Ian and I discovered that we had a number of core beliefs in common. The most important of these was that education has the power to make the difference in people’s lives. When we say education, we do not mean formal education, or at least, we do not mean only formal education. What we mean is the process that people go through to learn new skills and capabilities. We also share a common belief that most people, and when I say most, I mean virtually everyone, is fundamentally a good person and that the reason they make bad choices is not because they are bad people, but because they do not know any better. That is, they have not learnt the skills they need to be able to make better decisions, often because they have never had the opportunities to learn these skills.
This meeting took place a couple of months after the CIO conference last year. It was during my participation in the CIO conference that I realised that corporate New Zealand throws out enormous quantities of perfectly good IT equipment in the name of life-cycle management. Since this revelation, I started thinking about how I could use all that IT equipment to support my personal vision and the vision of my family to “support New Zealand as a place where everyone is safe and loved”. I dropped this into the conversation with Ian.
Ian’s response stunned me. “Games”, he said. “The answer is obvious, reuse that IT equipment to play games.” He then proceeded to lay out for me his view of the current state and future of computer games and the role they can play in supporting people on how to make appropriate moral and ethical choices in life. Learning requires two things: Engagement and appropriate content. Games have engagement so all we needed to do was find games with the right content and we were onto something.
The result of the meeting culminated in the Life Game Project (LGP) being born. A lot has happened since that breakfast. Too much to tell in this column. However, here is a little high-level information for you. Our purpose is: “Supporting New Zealand as a place where everybody is safe and loved by harnessing the power of immersive games technology to foster the development of life skills and positive lifestyle choices.”
Our current goals or BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) – to borrow a phrase from Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) – are focused on three key things:
- Create a self-managing framework for the New Zealand IT industry and educationalists to engage with and connect New Zealanders with today’s immersive games experience, to teach skills in fun and sustainable ways.
- Delivering more LGP Projects.
- Commissioning two immersive games for our communities and for sale.
All our goals are important, however, Ian and I are committed to this being a self-managing movement, or a community effort. We take our inspiration from the likes of Wikipedia and believe this to be the best way to make a difference in our communities in the long run. We would rather focus on utilising the passion and enthusiasm of our community, than building a cost structure that must be fed!
There are many ways that you can contribute to LGP and I do not have the space to go into them all here. You can, however, get more information from our website and you can contact us through the website to let us know what you are passionate about and how you would like to contribute. Also check out our video on YouTube or search for Life Game Project on the site.
In the quote above, I warned you that this was a blatant attempt to move you to give back to our community. I would love it if you choose to do this through LGP. However, if this is not for you, then I encourage you to find your passion and follow that as your way to give back to our community.
First published on cio.co.nz