America 2049

[America 2049: Human rights are in peril, democracy in the dust.

You: an agent of the Council on American Heritage.

Your mission: nab a terrorist—and change the future.]


Can interactive online experiences alter the perceptions and understandings of its users?

Can it break through social, religious, political barriers and foster empathy for civil rights?

Breakthrough, an India and U.S. based human rights organization, recently announced its futuristic Facebook game which depicts a “Divided States of America,” challenging players to virtually change the future.

In “America 2049,” a game spanning 12 weeks, players take on missions and face challenges based on human rights themes including immigration, race, sexual orientation, sex trafficking, religion, labor, and national security.

The goal is for users to explore how the choices and challenges Americans now face will shape the future of the country and its democratic values.

To put a human face on these issues, Hollywood talents such as Lost’s Harold Perrineau; Alias’ Victor Garber; 24’s Cherry Jones and Rent’s Anthony Rapp are actors in “America 2049.”

“As the game unfolds, players make high-stakes decisions,” said a Breakthrough spokesperson,  “they are immersed in a divided America of the near future, splintered by race and ethnicity, hostile to women, sexuality, and self-expression.”

The multimedia platform of this game utilizes both online and offline resources. Clues to solving the game are planted across the internet and in real-life events at leading cultural institutions nationwide.

Chicago’s Hull House Museum is a participating resource for players.

Lisa Junkin, education coordinator at Chicago’s Hull House said the museum is excited to partner with Breakthough.

According to Junkin, one of the museum’s events this week is tied directly to the game- as some of the Hull Houses’ artifacts are involved in “America 2040.”

However, as to which event holds the clues is a secret–players must figure it out on their own.

Junkin said the gaming world’s crowd is different than the museum’s crowd and it’s important to intertwine the two audiences and open dialogue.

“There’s been a lot of talk about gaming changing the world,” Junkin said, “it offers a real chance at understanding.”

Dr. Ronit Kampf, a political communications expert from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said interactive gaming does have the potential to change perceptions, through fostering understanding and awareness.

She said the use of interactive media has been employed for some time now in Israel, to help youth deal with the Israeli-Palestinian situation and to bridge gaps between young people living in the Middle East.

The Peres Center for Peace in Israel released “Peace Maker,” a similar interactive game, last year.

According to Kampf, online experiences help its participants develop a more complex perspective toward social and political issues.

“‘America 2049’ is literally a game-changer,” said Breakthrough President & CEO Mallika Dutt in a press release.

According to Dutt, “it parachutes us into an alternate reality perhaps not so far from our own, where we find America poised at a crossroads. The game experience allows us to immerse ourselves in a future that could be — but also inspires us to envision, and recommit to, a real America built on pluralism, democracy, dignity, equality and human rights for all.”

The game’s trailer can be viewed here:


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