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Rafael Fajardo's Socially Conscious Video Games


I don't really do video games. At most, I might take in a nice game of Wii tennis or maybe a little Guitar Hero, but that's basically it. So when I dropped by a friend's place the other night and he decided to pop in Call Of Duty 4, I think part of my brain blew up. I'm going to sound like a complete dinosaur saying this, but I just could not believe for the life of me that kids play this stuff, taking the role of the "heroic" soldier picking off terrorists in the "evil" middle east.

With this said, I was obviously quite thrilled (and perhaps relieved) to discover Rafael Fajardo's work with socially conscious video games last week, and that he's dropping by this Wednesday at the Ontario College of Art and Design to talk to about his ongoing projects.

Currently an associate professor of Electronic Media Art & Design at the University of Denver, Fajardo (along with his collaborative team known simply as SWEAT) has published two games to date; Crosser and La Migra. Both comment on the game-like nature of illegal human traffic at the US/Mexico border, and SWEAT is currently working on a third game set in Colombia that focuses on the effects of drug agriculture.

So like I said, I'm not really into video games. But projects like this that explore new forms of social and cultural education through unlikely mediums definitely get my attention. Needless to say, I'll be among the (hopefully) many attendies at OCAD this Wednesday, February 6th at 630pm. Admission is free, as always... and guests are advised to arrive early.


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