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Nurture Neighbourhoods
 

In a world of technology, it’s easy to become disconnected or forgetful of the people we live with and the places we live in. Video games can be a part of this dislocation as screen time diminishes engagement with the real world. But they can also offer ways to reconnect with those around us and find a fresh (helpfully disruptive) perspective on our neighbourhoods.

This list has been created with the help of Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development. For 25 years Cormac has helped communities, agencies and governments solve urban and rural development problems not by focusing on the deficiencies of neighbourhoods, towns, and villages but by understanding that people, their families and communities, have unique competencies in building community. As Cormac puts it. “Communities can’t know what they need from outside sources until they know what they have themselves internally. And we get this the wrong way round.”

The video games here offer a range of experiences that reshape and challenge our thinking in this direction:

  • Reimagine Space: Games like Eco and Terra Nil underline our relationship with the land. Not that we need to minimise harm, but that we need to understand our presence and impact so we can balance benefits ecologically.
  • Reimagine Community: Games like One Hour One Life invite us to contribute to a community for the benefit of future players. Others, like Pilgrims, invite us to understand the interrelated needs of a small community and then use their existing resources to meet these needs. Then there are games like Thousand Threads and Fable that shine a light on inter-related tensions in groups, where helping one person may negatively impact another.
  • Community Memory: Games like Heaven’s Vault, Treasures of the Aegean and Deep Time Walk illustrate the power of community memory and tradition, and how these things are lost (and recovered) through language.
  • Community Planning: Games like Mini Metro, Townscaper or Conduct Together put us in the role of planning transportation and provision as opposed to experts. Then there are games like Buildings Have Feelings Too, that disrupt the usual remote dispassionate planning of the lived environment by giving voice to it. Or games like Everything, that invite us to physically inhabit space in a massive range of bodies – from pollen to mountains, antelope to power pylons.

Another interesting voice on the intersection between play and place is Benjamin Stokes. His book, Locally Played, encourages us to “collaborate in the creation, deployment, and study of playful ways to build local connection and restore a critical sense of vitality and even possibility to our civic lives.”
 
This list includes 69 games from the last 20 years, with 1,768 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to rediscover community.

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Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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