Good-for-you video games are really nothing new. Oregon Trail is an educational game, arguably. All of those clandestine (non-Nintendo approved) games like Bible Adventures were definitely crafted with education/brainwashing in mind. This Alyssa Abkowitz report updates us on video games that use today's absorbing game engines for (literal) eat-your-vegetables gaming.
In Fatworld, you construct a character (right down to the skin color, food allergies and genetic predisposition) to be a restaurant owner. You must decide whether your character buys a nice restaurant or a cheap fast-food joint to franchise. And your decision affects other characters in the game, which can only eat at your restaurants.
As the game progresses, you buy health care out of a vending machine (Bogost's subtle commentary on the state of modern-day medicine), and you can even create radical laws that ban fruit or saturated fats.
"I want people to make really bad decisions," Bogost says. "They can find the edge conditions and see how the world would change based on those decisions."
That game was funded by the Public Broadcasting Service and the Independent Television Service. Some of its ilk were bankrolled by Darfur activism groups and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.