Vancouver video games with social impact: improve health, smarts, the environment

Social gaming has an arguably bad rap with critics – it’s a world time-consuming, money-sucking, low-budget games that have you manage virtual farms or engage in virtual gang fights. But some emerging Vancouver video game developers pulled an Apple and decided to “think different” – what if social gaming bettered people’s lives, and subsequently, even if by many degrees of extension, the whole world?

Vivity Labs concocts a mental workout with Fit Brains

This Gastown-based video game developer is growing fast –  six new employees in the past two months – but not quite as fast as it will make your brain grow!

Okay, slight exaggeration. But Fit Brains has the right intention: It’s an expansive online library of mentally stimulating computer games, many of which are scientifically engineered to target specific areas of the brain. Their reputation is solid and their success is representative that, yes, there is a market for brain-boosters. Not everyone needs to shoot people’s brains to have fun gaming. Sometimes they just want to enhance their own. And hey, knowledge is power, right?

Ayogo rewards responsible choices in City of Ash, HealthSeeker

This Vancouver-based, Launch Party Vancouver 9 demo attendee places emphasis in its games on making responsible choices. CEO Michael Fergusson, whom we recently interviewed prior to LPV9, uses Ayogo’s flagship game, City of Ash (mobile app), as a metaphor for what these gaming companies are pushing for. The game has the player rebuild a world freshly razed into oblivion. Along the way, as one might expect while reconstructing a planet, choices must be made. Does the player – or in this case, the company – trigger human’s best or worst instincts?

In their Facebook game HealthSeeker, Michael and his team definitely push for the positive side. The game, which was developed for the U.S.-based Diabetes Hands Foundation, encourages players to make healthy lifestyle choices by eating right and upping the ante on their exercise regime.

EcoBuddies promotes environmental sustainability 

This colourful, vibrant virtual world is not only adorable, its responsibly educational. The cutely named EcoBuddies is an online kids game that promotes environmentally conscious decisions and lifestyles. It’s never too young to ingrain the concept of eco-sustainability, especially in forthcoming generations.

Promising future

Vancouver, renowned for its enviable West Coast living, and famous for its “Hollywood North” label, has in recent years become a hotbed for superior gaming. The beautiful city has a lot more than just an EA studio – it’s got something in that fresh Pacific water and mountain air that makes people say, “Alright, let’s whip up some video games.” While these days it’s hard to say what’s next for Vancouver, Canada, and all of Earth, the situation as of now foretells a promising future: a world bettered by video games, where high scores mean healthy lives, and engaged players apply their game-based habits of social and environmental responsibility to the real world.

We’ve just got to spend a little less time wrangling e-sheep and gunning down territorial threats.