The biggest and most exciting video games are competitive and bombastic. It’s no surprise that we generally think video games are about entertainment and distraction. However, there are a growing number of games that offer new and novel ways to engage with a wide range of topics.

An Immersive Experience Awaits

The last year, I’ve been hunting down games that invite players to reflect on issues of radicalisation, misinformation and media literacy. What’s particularly exciting about the games I’ve found is that they offer a nuanced understanding of these topics and are opportunities to engage with them directly rather than through ‘rote’ learning. Players get to experience these things first-hand and so come away with a much more embodied and fuller understanding.

This sounds like a tall order, I know. Maybe a bit far-fetched, but try some of the following games and you’ll find not only surprising topics but a surprising degree of deep engagement.

Each of these games has a link for more information, which not only expands on how the topic is handled but offers some guidance on what age the content is appropriate for. Of course, if using these with young people or in a school setting, it’s important to play them yourself first to be able to make the best use of potentially sensitive topics.

Headliner: NoviNews

Headliner: NoviNews is a narrative-driven simulation game where you play as the person in charge of the headlines and stories that are released to the public. Each article that you approve has a direct impact on the world outside. Which news stories you choose to push will affect the graffiti on walls, the moods of other people and your relationship with the other three main characters — Evie, Justin and Rudy — who come with their own complex and compelling backstories.


Orwell is a unique game, not only for its intriguing surveillance and believable world but also for the way it powerfully illustrates the thin line between fact and fiction. There are rarely good or right answers. Instead, each choice you make is a compromise between repercussions and some semblance of ethics. It cleverly coerces you to do things and make decisions that you wouldn’t normally do, only to show you the consequences.

Bad News

Bad News is a role-playing game about building a news media organisation. It’s designed to highlight bias in the news by putting you in charge of a series of decisions to make a profitable company. All you do is answer questions, but the answers have implications. Also, what you share online is reflected in your readers’ responses.

Citizen Sleeper

Citizen Sleeper is a role-playing game set in the ruins of interplanetary capitalism. You are an escaped worker exploring a lawless space station, making friends, and (ultimately) trying to escape your past. Each cycle you roll dice and decide how to spend it: on work, on society, or on surviving with more power for the next loop. It’s a game that asks how it’s possible to be a person in a system that subjugates and commodifies personhood in favour of profits.

Harmony Square

Harmony Square is a text-based adventure game about fake news. You live in idyllic Harmony Square and are hired as Chief Disinformation Officer whose job is to disturb the square’s peace and quiet by fomenting internal divisions and pitting residents against each other.

We Become What We Behold

We Become What We Behold is a short narrative game where you take pictures of a group of characters going about their everyday life. You play by positioning the camera with your mouse to capture moments of life. It’s novel because this seemingly innocent action has unexpected consequences and something to say about the power of the media. (The game doesn’t hold back on this narrative and includes content only suitable for adults or those with parental permission.)


By Andy Robertson: Journalist and Author of Taming Gaming book.

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