(NEW YORK, NY) August 1, 2017 — The second day of programming at the 14th Annual Games for Change Festival featured presentations by leaders in the gaming, humanities, neuroscience, and education sectors including Colleen Macklin, Jason Horne, Mary Flanagan, Jessica Lindl, Graeme Devine, and a panel discussion with The Women of Overwatch. The Festival, which is produced by Games for Change (G4C), a nonprofit with the mission of advocating for the power of digital games beyond entertainment, was held at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.
Highlights from day two included:
- The announcement of the results from the Minecraft Game Jam, which was led by Minecraft: Education Edition manager Meenoo Rami. The Minecraft Curriculum Hackjam brought together 35 educators, eight students – some as young as ten years old – and six Minecraft mentors, with the goal of creating new lessons using Minecraft: Education Edition. The lessons were developed around the following themes: Computer Science, Computational Thinking, Math, Science, Systems Thinking, and Civics.
- Games for Change announced a partnership with Charitybuzz and is offering a set of unique experiences through auction like:
- Lunch with the Voice Actress of Symmetra from Overwatch, Anjali Bhimani (est. value $2,000);
- Play a Game and Chat with Kickstarter’s Head of Games, Luke Crane (est. value $3,000);
- Tour of Valve Software HQ in Bellevue, WA (est. value $1,500);
- Ultimate Rockstar Games Package in NYC with a Swag Bag (est. value $2,000);
- Visit the 2K HQ in Novato, CA and Participate in a Livestream for NBA 2K (est. value $1,500);
- Two Tickets to E3, the World’s Largest Video Game Event from June 12-14, 2018 in LA (est. value $2,000);
- Spend the Day at Blizzard with Andreas Toyias, the Senior Casting Director, the Senior Casting Director and Voice Director (est. value $1,500).
- Attendees were also treated to a live “Well Played” session with Walden, a gamewhich won both Most Significant Impact along with Game of the Year at Monday’s Games for Change Awards. Tracy Fullerton, Professor and Director of USC Game Innovation Lab and Creator of Walden, A Game led this interaction gameplay along with Drew Davidson, Director and Teaching Professor, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and Richard Lemarchand, Associate Professor, USC Games.
- The film, Gaming in the Real World, made its North American Festival Premiereat the Games for Change Festival. It is the first feature documentary about video games changing the real world. It follows three game developers (Mojang, the creators of Minecraft; Paradox Interactive, publishers of Cities: Skylines; and indie-game developer José Sanches) in their struggle to make their games be more than just a game, but also an effective tool in planning our future cities and democratizing the planning process.
“Bringing the film Gaming in the Real World to the Games for Change Festival was a specially opportunity us,” says Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change. “There’s a significant juxtaposition between film and games – they are both beautiful means for story-telling.”
Additional highlights from Day 2 included the following keynote presentations and panel discussions:
- The Women of “Overwatch” Panel Discussion:The voice actresses who play Symmetra, Sombra and Mercy from “Overwatch” (Anjali Bhimani, Lucie Pohl, Carolina Ravassa) as well as Senior Casting Director and Voice Director at Blizzard, Andrea Toyais discussed the process of bringing strong female characters to life. The panel was moderated by Nika Nour, Director, Federal Government Affairs, Entertainment Software Association.
- Colleen Macklin, Professor, Parsons School of Design gave a presentation highlighting the brief history of games that have either changed our world for the better, or have created a march towards the dystopian future – from Tennis to Cards Against Humanity and Stardew Valley.
- Jason Horne,Principal of GSV Acceleration, discussed from an investors’ point of view, where the game-based learning sector market is today, how big and attractive the opportunity is, and what land-mines should those in the sector be aware of. Despite few breakout commercial successes, gravitational shifts within the sector have the potential to create new-scaled opportunities. Capital is increasingly flowing into game-based learning, and into the broader market for educational technologies as the sector embraces innovation, like never before.
- Mary Flanagan, Director of Tiltfactor Lab at Dartmouth College, gave a talk about how people can think about using games for change during a time that’s decidedly less pro-social focus. In her talk, Flanagan made the case that game design for social change requires research if it intends to make a difference. She also raised questions about how a game’s impact can be better understood and about evidence-based design throughout the lifecycle of a project.
- Craig Hagen, EA, and Alan Lewis, Take-Two Interactive, discussed the state of the game industry from their perspective at AAA games studios. Moderator Anastasia Staten, ESA Foundation, led a conversation about policy, workforce development, innovation and the changing digital landscape.
- Paolo Perdercini,game developer, artist and educator spoke about the scope of critical game making beyond the fetishized content and toward the politics of game platforms, play spaces, and gamers. Games used as change-agents are often hyped as magical objects with inherent powers: the power to teach something, to change behaviors, to foster empathy, to encourage action. The hope is to leverage their digital reproducibility to reach a massive user base and automatically perform the work of social change.
- Jessica Lindl, Global Head of Education at Unity Technologies, spoke about how Unity is expanding its reach from democratizing development to democratizing creativity, opportunity and impact for all.
- Graeme Devine, Chief Game Wizard at Magic Leap, discussed the challenges and opportunities with the emerging field of mixed reality, digital content that meshes with the tangible world. He asserted that in order for mixed reality to become readily accepted, it has to find a comfortable contract with the audience, and like other digital platforms like television, the product needs to evolve. He stated that mixed reality will be an everyday occurrence in the future.
- Dave Culyba from Carnegie Mellon University debuted Project Axon, which is a live crowd-gaming experience using virtual reality to explore competitive social media. The game was created by a team of students at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center.
**A NOTE TO MEDIA: Keynote presentations were recorded via Periscope – archived footage can be accessed here: periscope.tv/g4c. Please credit: Games for Change for use. Additional footage is available upon request.
Photos from Day 1 can be accessed here: https://sunshinesachs.egnyte.com/fl/YLT6QcBvDV
(Please credit: Jane Kratochvil / Games for Change).
The Games for Change Festival continues on Wednesday, August 2 at Parsons School of Design with the first-ever VR for Change Summit. For more information, or to request credentials to cover Day 3 of the Festival, please contact [email protected].
About Games for Change
Since 2004, Games for Change (G4C) has been empowering game creators and innovators to drive real-world change, using games that help people to learn, improve their communities, and contribute to make the world a better place. G4C partners with technology and gaming companies as well as nonprofits, foundations and government agencies, to run world class events, public arcades, design challenges and youth programs. G4C supports a global community of game developers working to use games to tackle real-world challenges, from humanitarian conflicts to climate change and education.
About Parsons School of Design
Parsons School of Design is one of the world’s leading institutions for art and design education. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. www.newschool.edu/parsons/