A couple of weeks ago, as part of our Lab services, Games for Change led a full day hands on game workshop for Heifer International. Heifer, whose mission is to end world hunger through a livestock gifting program, education and hands on training, contacted us to help their new gaming efforts around this cause. The daylong program was co-sponsored by Heifer and the nearby Clinton School of Public Service.
Asi and Emily traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas to provide an intensive one-day workshop in which the employees and leaders of Heifer participated in a series of activities to help them understand how games can be used to achieve their goals. They learned that games have the power to increase awareness, educate the public, and drive donations to their cause. The daylong summit included active brainstorming sessions in which Heifer employees came up with tangible strategies that now have encouraged them to explore further.
Prior to arriving in Little Rock, Games for Change pre-selected a range of relevant games to showcase at Heifer (from mobile, Web, to Xbox Kinect), which would demonstrate an assortment of game models that could be employed by Heifer to achieve their specific goals. Games were selected to showcase a variety of topics, platforms, audiences and end goals. Participants played all games later in the day to get familiarized with the wide range of games available for social change and learning.
The workshop took place at Heifer International’s headquarters, an expansive campus situated in the heart of Little Rock. Beginning the day, Asi delivered a kickoff presentation to a full Heifer audience on how games can be used for meaningful change. Asi’s presentation highlighted several case studies with supporting evaluation and other metrics to help the Heifer audience understand the impact games can have on a range of goals, including raising awareness, calls to action, fundraising and even driving behavior change.
Following the kickoff presentation, Heifer employees participated in the hands-on gameplay session in which they were invited to play and discuss the preselected games. In small groups, participants rotated through nearly a dozen games covering topics including financial literacy, farming, government planning, and the global food crisis. While playing, participants were encouraged by Asi and Emily to consider the differences in presentation, theme, interface, gameplay, pace and tone as a way to help them hone in on features which they liked and disliked to reference during a game design brainstorm session later in the day.
Once all participants played through the game activities, Asi provided a follow-up presentation that outlined a methodology recommended by Games for Change to think through games with meaningful social impact. Steps were explained through case studies and participants followed along with slide printouts which they would use as part of their game concept brainstorm following the presentation.
After Asi’s presentation, participants were divided into smaller breakout groups and were challenged to come up with a game strategy of their own. For the remainder of the afternoon, Asi and Emily worked with each of the groups to define the core elements of a game which Heifer could use, all based on the impact objectives defined by the group. Groups collaborated to define the following core characteristics for their game concept: audience, context of play, impact objectives, platform, financials, and gameplay.
At the end of the day, the breakout groups reunited for presentations and showcased their concepts to the larger group. Presented concepts got feedback from the audience, and were probed by Asi and Emily together with two Heifer representatives, who served as judges. In an ideal scenario, the winning game concept would proceed into a further stage of discovery.
While in Little Rock, Asi and Emily were also invited to meet with students at the Clinton School of Public Service and given a private tour of the Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. At the school, Asi and Emily met with members of the 2012 and 2013 graduating classes in the only Master’s of Public Service program in the nation. Students at the Clinton school graduate to become global leaders in the public service sector including government, non-profit and private sectors.
Following lunch with the students, Asi and Emily participated in a radio interview to be broadcast on the KUAR Radio, a local NPR affiliate. Discussion topics included games in education, methods for integrating content into games, and bridging games into the real world.