In Tokyo, Gonzalo Frasca gave me a button stating that "Play can change the world!" He is not the only one who has thought so, but one of the people who has taken it further than most is the Norwegian speed skating athlete Johann Olav Koss. Today he is President and CEO of Right to Play, an organisation which was started as part of the preparations to the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994, originally named "Olympic Aid." Johann Olav Koss won three gold medals in the Lillehammer Olympics, and donated large amounts of his winning to Olympic Aid. Since then he has dedicated his life to giving children living under extreme hardship a chance to play.
I am not sure if Johann Olav Koss thinks of computer games as important in this context. The children he tries to help are not troubled with obesity and low school performance, nor are they bored and abandoned in the middle of material abundance. They are starving in deserts, fleeing warzones, struggling in slums. He might though. I would like to be able to ask him.
I think perhaps, if we are to take games seriously as political and educational tools, we should look to the experiences of Right to Play. Until then: Part of the donations October 21st here in Norway - when the national broad casting opens up the television screen to a good cause, and people knock on doors all over the country, asking for contributions - go to Right to Play. If you're in Norway, this is one of the best causes I can think of. Play can change the world.