Check out this game called Spent. It's about the decisions people have to make when they're hit by hard times, something that happened all too often even before we were hit by the worst recession in a half-century. Sometimes I forget how fortunate I have been to have been born into the circumstances I was. While I'm sure my life would have been better off without the economic crisis, I have never had to make these kinds of awful decisions.
This game is obviously a fundraising/awareness tool for an organization dedicated to helping such people. What I wonder is whether someone could market a real game that dealt with this or similar issues.
Most games either place you in the role of someone incredibly powerful (think civilization building) or in something fantastical (zombie survival). There aren't many games that put people into "real life" situations most of us would find familiar. Yes, Agricola skirts the border with the occasional need to take a "Begging" card, but it never feels like a game that simulates a real dilemma.
Can anyone come up with a good example I'm missing where you feel badly for the person you're playing as in the game?
It might not be possible to craft this kind of game as a serious game for normal distribution. People could be averse to spending their free time with something that depressed them. Despite this, I think I would like to take a whack at making one. I've been having trouble getting excited about what my next brand-new design would be. This is a challenge that could keep me interested.