Often, the most effective forms of education come not as rote pedagogy but in forms that allow us to engage with the learning at an emotional level. And sometimes, that can be as simple as allowing us to experience something from a different perspective. And that’s exactly what the Portland-developed online game Can you solve it? does with the issue of homelessness.
The game was created with two intentions in mind. First, to move conversations from how to immediately respond to homelessness, to how we can solve it. Too many discussions of homelessness are stuck on simplistic questions about whether or not to give out items and whether they may or may not be helpful. “What should I give someone?” “Should I give money?” “Will they use it for drugs?” These questions don’t address the root causes or the long-term solutions, and they often leave the audience considering homelessness as an issue of personal choice rather than a matter of social, collective responsibility.
Second, the game is intended to provide a new tool for public education, activation, and movement building. Social media—more generally, technology as a whole—is changing local campaign strategies. Tools such as mail programs and phone banks are not as successful in engaging and educating voters as they once were. This game was sponsored independently to test a new method of voter engagement and education.
Just as important, the game provides a platform to promote affordable housing efforts. Both in Portland and around the US.