I view machinima (digital films created using a game engine or virtual world) as a powerful and accessible medium for storytelling and artistic expression. And despite its game-based roots, I think there is ample evidence that machinima can be used to engage people on serious issues and ideas -- whether its the upcoming US Presidential election or climate change.
At Global Kids we run the Virtual Video Project, which is all about youth creating machinima on an issue that they care about. So we think about how to use this digital filmmaking format for serious storytelling all the time.
I have been looking for a comprehensive listing of machinima films that address a serious social or political issue, but so far no luck. So here is my first stab at a list of "serious machinima"...
My very incomplete, initial list of political and social-themed machinima:
- 10 Convention on the Rights of the Child 1 Minute PSAs (link one, link two) by Global Kids
- "Avatars Against the War" (2007) on an anti-war protest in Second Life by Rik Panganiban
- "A Better World in Second Life" (2007) a 5 part documentary on the social uses of virtual worlds by Josh Levy
- "A Childs War" (2007) on child soldiers in Uganda by the Virtual Video Project of Global Kids
- "Dead in Iraq" (2007) online protest in "America's Army" MMOG by Joseph Delappe
- Draxtor Dupres' machinima news reporting in Second Life regularly covers social and political topics
- "Election Duel! Obama V. McCain - Who Get's Pwned?" (2008) poll of World of Warcraft players on which presidential candidate they are voting for by Rich Kuras
- "The French Democracy" (2005) about the French riots by Lionhead Movies / Alex Chan
- "The Greenest Console" (2007) about pollution in the game console industry by GreenPeace
- "Invisible Threads" (2008) parody art piece on sweat shops by Annie Ok
- "Oils Well" (2008) about the global oil crisis by Civil Protection
- "Race to Equality" (2008) on access to education by the Virtual Video Project of Global Kids
- "Repuffs" (2008) political satire by the Martin Brother
- "Safety Kids" (2003) PSA on child safety around railroad tracks by LA MTA
- "A Second Life on Second Life" on people with disabilities in SL by Scribe Media
- "Sheik Attack" (1999) on the horrors of war by Eddo Stern
- "Snoop Votes" (2004) by Paul Marino, Adam Penenberg, and Magdalena Kimshizzle
- "This Spartan Life" machinima series that has dealt with a number of serious issues, from the future of the book to Net Neutrality by Chris Burke
- "Standing Alone" (2006) about a couple's loss of a child by Decorgal
- "Swift Kicks Moms for Truth" (2008) political satire by Silver and Goldie
- "An Unfair War" (2006) war commentary by Thuyen Nguyen
Also worth mentioning are competitions and festivals that feature social change machinima. Quest2changeRL is a contest for machinima on climate change offering $500 for the best one.
Please suggest other machinima and competitions in the comments, and I'll change this post. Thanks!