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What’s Wrong With Galactor?

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galactorGalactor is a new Danish internet-game directed at teenagers, supposedly to teach them about the pitfalls of buying stuff on the internet. The game has been created by the Finnish government, supported by the Nordic Council and translated into Danish, as yet another “let’s try to speak the youngsters’ language and see if they’ll want to listen to us this time.” Well, they won’t – at least not with Galactor it’s argued in this article from Danish daily Politiken.

I decided to test the game myself, but gave up after ten minutes (so my analysis might be limited), because the game simply doesn’t work. But why? It’s got internet, it’s got mobile phones, it’s got stuff about dating, it’s got a cool name and a flashy game-in-the-game. But the language is archaic and half-swedish and the drama mainly takes place in a series of long emails posing more or less sneaky questions, which you have to read and read and read in order to play the game – playing here means answering your friends’ calls for advice on buying stuff on the internet: Is this legal? Is this safe? And of course it’s not, most of the time. And that is the problem with Galactor – it has no story. Only a series of events.

Let me explain: Stories are about two – and only two – things: Choices and Consequences of Choices.

Choice means dilemma: It means choosing between good and better or bad and worse, not between good and bad. But in Galactor, the choices are all very obvious, most of them variations of: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t”. Don’t buy stuff from people you don’t know, don’t believe that you can get wonderful brand-stuff at 1/4 of the price and so on. So, no dilemmeas there.

But what is even worse is that even these very simple choices have no consequences. Yes, your answers are followed by other emails from friends asking you even more questions. But if you answered the first question “wrong”, they simply ask you to repeat your answer, giving you the choices again! There are no consequences from giving the wrong answer, because you simply are not allowed to do it. This is not learning through storytelling, this is badly disguised lecturing. At the same time I have no idea what my relationship is with these people or why I should want to answer them truly or not – which is the reason I don’t want to be so limited in my choices: If I can’t get involved in the story, at least I should be able to have some fun by screwing around!

But hey, as the Danish official Mathilde Mei Jørgensen responsible for the Danish version says: The point of the game is not the game in itself, but only to make young people think about legal questions about consumption. Apparently, young people are very stupid and they will never by themselves take steps to buy stuff securely on the internet. You have to trick them into it by playing their favorite song while you whisper good grown-up advices subliminally in their ear. Even if people only play once, this priority is achieved, she thinks. I’m afraid I didn’t play the game long enough to reflect on that rather discouraging concept.

Skrevet af Lars Hvidberg

22. March, 2007 @ 20:10

Kategorier: Web 2.0

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