Serious games about human trafficking should accomplish two minimum goals:
- Show students that slavery is alive and well and extremely profitable;
- Teach them how to take two or three obvious steps to confront it when they see or suspect it.
A truly superior game would do two more things:
- Help students understand the sophisticated global system of trade and distribution that perpetuates slavery and makes it profitable;
- Empower them with the necessary moral, economic, and political knowledge to become articulate and confident critics of human trafficking in their daily lives.
An abolition curriculum should include a serious game, and ideally would include two games.
- A virtual world simulation that gives students a visceral taste of the global slave trade, as a slave, a slave trader, and an abolitionist (activist, social services worker, law enforcement). A visceral taste will encourage empathy;
- An alternate reality game that empowers them by showing them specific methods of standing up to slavery as wage-earners.
Clearly I view students as social beings, and more importantly, as integral pieces of our global economic system. While it is obviously in the interests of that system for wage-earners to opt to define themselves in different ways, as consumers in particular, or passive recipients of that system’s output, I think we must aim to encourage in students a sense of agency – an understanding that the system exists for their benefit, and not vice versa. They need to grasp that if they see a problem that they believe needs fixing, they can formulate a solution and implement it. And this is always easier when done in collaboration with others. That means organizing and communicating. The ARG will show them how to do that.