As a psychology student, the majority of my coursework has focused on advocacy. I’ve taken a ton of classes dealing with the law, corrections system, and the forensic side of things. Correctional reform is something I am passionate about and don’t take lightly. On the other hand, I also worked in education for several years and know if we can get the youth thinking about these issues, we have a higher chance of succeeding in obtaining a more cohesive society. That’s why I want to share with you, The Street Arcade.
The Street Arcade was a project that began in the summer of 2015 by Steven Ciampaglia, a professor at Northern Illinois University, and Kerry Richardson, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with Plug-In Studio and 13 teen artists. This project slammed together science and art to create 8-bit style games that teach players about social issues including but not limited to white privilege, racial profiling, and peer pressure.
Aside from teaching these teens critical thinking skills as well as embracing art, they were able to learn more about the coding side of things thanks to the partnership with Plug-In Studio. Once their masterpiece was finished, The Street Arcade was unveiled at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, in which those passing by found the project emotionally stimulating. It goes without saying, even five years later, these games have a place within our society.
These games can be played online and allow teens to understand these social issues from the perspective of their peers. On the website, one can play games such as No Way Out or Serve and Protect as well as learn the basics of Scratch, a coding site for kids. Even years after The Street Arcade project has finished, it still has a lot to give to the community. Overall, I hope this article sparks some conversations and maybe inspires more artists to share their work with the world.