VR Brain Jam: Brainstorm new VR games with neuroscientists

2017 Games for Change Festival - passes now on sale

VR Brain Jam at the Games for Change Festival and VR for Change Summit

Are you a game creator or neuroscience researcher? Apply to join our VR Brain Jam

How can concepts from neuroscience be applied to virtual reality experiences? What happens when you take virtual reality expertise and apply it to neuroscience problems?

The VR Brain Jam is a collaborative event that will pair neuroscience researchers and game developers to create games exploring how VR can be used in neuroscience research and cognitive therapy.

The game jam, co-hosted by Games for Change and Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, will take place July 28-30 at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City. Participants will receive free passes to the Games for Change Festival and VR for Change Summit (July 31 – August 2), and may have a chance to present their prototypes at the Summit. Spots are limited. Apply to join one of the 15 game jam teams on the VR Brain Jam website.

Apply to participate in VR Brain Jam

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⏰ 48 hours left to get your early-bird discount on Festival passes

Games for Change Festival 2017

Early birds get discounts!
Time is running out for early-bird passes

The early-bird discount for the Games for Change Festival expires on Thursday, May 4, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Buy now and save!

Buy Pass

G4C Marketplace

Showcase your games or tech at the Festival

The G4C Marketplace is a b2b expo at the Festival that invites companies and game studios to demo new games, technologies, and platforms to over 800 attendees, including funders, developers, educators, government, and top social innovators. Applications are due by June 15. Applicants will be notified on a rolling basis — send in your application soon to reserve a spot.

Apply here

2017 G4C Festival speaker lineup

Last week, we announced our first round of presenters for the Games for Change Festival and VR for Change Summit. Check out the lineup here.

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Announcing the first 2017 Games for Change Festival speakers

Games for Change Festival 2017

Announcing the first keynote speakers!

Early-bird extended through May 4

The three-day Games for Change Festival and VR for Change Summit will feature keynote presentations from Megan Smith (former White House chief technology officer); Gabo Arora (founder and creative director at LightShed); Anjali Bhimani (actress/voice of Symmetra in Overwatch and Nisha in Fallout 4); Luke Crane (head of games at Kickstarter); and many more.

Looking forward to this lineup? We’ve extended our early-bird rate on all Festival passes for one week! Buy yours before May 4 and save!

Buy Pass

VR for Change Summit logo

The first of-its-kind VR for Change Summit will focus on advancing virtual technologies for positive social change, bringing together developers, artists, storytellers, journalists, researchers, activists and policymakers for dialogue, demos, connections and debates focused on new initiatives to advance the field.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, will illustrate that use of virtual reality and innovative apps have impacted empathy and continue to revolutionize the way people access reproductive health care. Gabo Arora, founder and creative director of LightShed and maker of VR documentaries Clouds Over Sidra, Waves of Grace, and My Mother’s Wing, presents a historical overview of visual media and its uses for empathy. Amy and Ryan Green, the creators behind the award-winning game That Dragon, Cancer, share how they’re bringing their experience to VR. Aldis Sipolins, head of VR and game design at IBM, will provide an overview of presence and ecological validity in psychological research.
G4C Festival Games for Learning Summit track, with Alphabear

Deborah Quazzo, co-founder and managing partner of GSV Acceleration, will provide a perspective on what developers and investors should know about the future of the games for learning market. Constance Steinkuehler, professor at University of California Irvine, presents 10 big findings for games for impact from over a decade of research. David Edery, CEO of Spry Fox, will share the process of developing an educational version of his studio’s popular, unbearably cute game Alphabear. Jane Robinson, CFO of First Book, examines what educators and after-school providers want from GBL products and how they browse, evaluate, purchase learning games. The team behind EduApps4Syria will look to mobilize the G4C community to help reach and serve some of the most vulnerable kids in the world through their open-source platform.
G4C Festival Civics & Social Issues track, with an image from Molleindustria's Casual Games for Protestors

Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, presents the institute’s groundbreaking research tool, the GD-IQ (Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient) to evaluate gender representation in media. Nicole Rustad, former corporate citizenship program manager at Disney, will give a talk on 10 years of kids helping kids in the virtual world of Club Penguin. Tracy Fullerton, USC Game Innovation Lab professor and director, discusses games in the arts and humanities, with examples from Walden, a game. Politics and game-making will take center stage as Paolo Pedercini, professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the game maker behind Molleindustria, examines protest games and playful resistance, and Colleen Macklin, associate professor at Parsons School of Design, highlights the political potential of games and play, and how they can change public opinion. Mary Flanagan, director of Tiltfactor Lab at Dartmouth College, makes the case for evidence-based design.
G4C Festival Neurogaming & Health track, with an image from Project Discovery in EVE Online

Go behind the scenes of Ubisoft’s game to treat lazy eye, Dig Rush, with Joseph Koziak, CEO of Amblyotech, and Luc St-Onge, associate producer at Ubisoft. Hear how players are making scientific contributions through EVE Online with Attila Szantner, co-founder of Massively Multiplayer Online Science, and through online protein-folding game Foldit with Seth Cooper, assistant professor at Northeastern University. David Miller, program officer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides overview of health-relevant federal funding opportunities supporting game development. Moran Cerf, neuroscientist and professor at the Kellogg School of Management, how we can use recent understanding of the brain to improve experiences. Deutsche Telekom’s Wolfgang Kampbartold discusses how co-opting simple everyday behaviors like gaming can allow us to use mobile technology and big data to solve some of society’s most urgent problems with updates from Sea Hero Quest.

Buy Pass

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G4C Festival speaker lineup coming soon

Games for Change Festival 2017

Speaker lineup will be revealed on April 27

Don’t forget to check our website next Thursday to see who will take the stage at this year’s Festival. But there is no need to wait to get your passes! Early-bird passes are available now for a limited time.
All Games for Change Festival passes are discounted during our early-bird period, including our 3-day premium pass that includes access to all Festival keynotes, workshops, the G4C Marketplace, and the all-new VR for Change Summit. Take advantage and get the lowest price offered!  

Price chart for early-bird rate passes for the Games for Change Festival

2-day and 1-day passes are also available. See all pass options here.

Buy Pass
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Announcing $5,000 in scholarships to Playcrafting’s game design courses in NYC

Games for Change and Playcrafting logos
Virtual reality at Playcrafting

We are proud to announce $5,000 in scholarships, sponsored by the Bigglesworth Family Foundation, to Playcrafting’s game design courses in New York City.

Playcrafting empowers the game development community through local events and education in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. Their game development and design topics curriculum is taught by top instructors with real-world experience.

With these scholarships, we hope to enable more aspiring creators to acquire the skills they need to design games for social change and share their stories. To help make quality game-making education available to under-represented groups in the games industry, we are thrilled to partner with Playcrafting to offer the following scholarships:

  • Learn Unity in 8 Weeks: A $1,000 scholarship, bringing the total course cost to $1,500 for the next course starting in April
  • Game Writing Primer: A full $600 scholarship for the next course starting April 18
  • 8-Class Pass: A full $200 scholarship for entry to 8 one-night classes

The application deadline is April 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Each request will be reviewed by a panel of Playcrafting instructors and advisers. They will consider the following when reviewing responses: Would this person be able to attend a Playcrafting course without the support of a scholarship? How will attending this course benefit this person’s game design skills? How will the applicant use these new skills in the long-term?

Apply Here

If you have any questions, please reach out to Games for Change at contact@gamesforchange.org.

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Reminder: G4C Festival submissions due this Friday, March 24

Games for Change Festival 2017

3 days left to submit your game or talk!
Deadline for Festival submissions is March 24

We are accepting submissions to the 2017 Games for Change Festival through March 24, 11:59 p.m. EST. A limited number of games and session ideas will be selected and receive complimentary Festival passes. Please send your submissions through the forms that we have linked to below.

Game Awards

Each year, we celebrate the year’s best social impact and learning games at our G4C Awards ceremony and feature an on-site arcade of the Awards finalists for Festival attendees to play. If you have launched or will launch a game between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, then go for it!

Categories include: Most Significant Impact, Most Innovative, Best Game Play, Best Learning Game, and Game of the Year.

Deadline: March 24, 11:59 p.m. EST

Session Ideas

The 2017 Festival will focus on emerging areas in the impact games sector, each as a unique track of programming:

  • Neurogaming & Health
  • Civics & Social Impact
  • Games for Learning
  • VR for Change Summit

Have an idea for a talk that doesn’t fit in one of these tracks? Don’t worry — presentations, discussions, demos and challenging ideas outside of these topics are welcome, too!

Deadline: March 24, 11:59 p.m. EST

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G4C Migration Challenge winner announced

G4C Migration Design Challenge

Congratulations to planpolitik for its winning concept, Next Stop: Weichenbach

We are thrilled to announce the winner of the Games for Change (G4C) Migration Design Challenge, an initiative presented by The Richard Lounsbery Foundation and in partnership with the Migration Policy Institute. The Migration Design Challenge aims to inspire the creation of a game that connects existing and migrant communities and emphasizes cultural integration.

The winner of the challenge’s $10,000 grand prize is Next Stop: Weichenbach, a game concept submitted by German design studio planpolitik. Next Stop was selected for its relevance to the pressing public policy issue of refugee integration, impact goals, and gameplay — the simulation game places the player in the shoes of a range of characters to foster empathy from multiple viewpoints. Additionally, the well-defined game system — inspired by face-to-face training simulations — is suited and designed for classroom/in-school use, demonstrating that the context of use was considered in the design.

“Around the world, debates about the integration of immigrants and refugees are taking place in the media, classrooms, the justice system, political rallies, and even pop culture,” said Migration Policy Institute Senior Policy Analyst Jeanne Batalova. “The most appealing feature of the Next Stop: Weichenbach game concept was its practical approach to addressing a real-life issue: How to ensure newcomers’ integration while acknowledging the legitimacy of different stakeholders’ views and interests?”

Earlier this year, the Migration Design Challenge asked game designers how can a game help people understand and work through concerns over perceived job competition? How can a game experience emphasize community engagement to help migrants and their neighbors improve their understanding of each others’ cultures?

G4C received 190 submissions from 31 countries, including multiple submissions from Belarus and Kazakhstan; dozens of entries from the UK, US, and Latin America; and individual submissions from countries such as Croatia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, and Slovenia. Many submissions highlighted the struggles of immigrant journeys and sought to highlight the inequities immigrants can face. Some depicted highly personal experiences and reflected concerns, fears, and hopes for the future. A number of gameplay formats were proposed, but most were simulation adventure games, depicting a multitude of global viewpoints. Most submissions (126 out of 190) were from people who had no prior experience working on migration policy or issues.

Since 2012, G4C has organized game design challenges around a wide range of topics, including nuclear threat reduction, reproductive health, and space exploration. This year the focus was on immigrant integration, sponsored by The Richard Lounsbery Foundation. The Migration Policy Institute was invited to be the subject matter expert. The 190 submissions received in the Migration Design Challenge represented the second highest number of the eight challenges that G4C has run to date and well above the average number of 75 submissions received. Challenges that ask for only game concepts generally receive higher submissions than the ones that require developers send a prototype.

A panel of game designer judges and subject matter experts from the Migration Policy Institute selected one winner, who will receive a $10,000 prize to support further development of their game, and four honorary finalists who will receive complementary tickets to the Games for Change Festival.

Next Stop: Weichenbach (planpolitik)
A multiplayer, browser-based simulation game that allows up to 35 players to take over the roles of fictitious municipal decision makers and other stakeholders to negotiate an intriguing scenario about the integration of newly arriving refugees. The game aims at fostering empathy as well as creating awareness about the legitimate interests of all groups involved. Teachers moderate the experience in the classroom or through online portal, and students engage in discussions from various viewpoints to understand needs and concerns of all sides.

Below are details on the four finalists selected for honorable mention.

Welcome Home (ELF Experience)
Honorable Mention: Best Representation of Theme
An open-ended game styled after The Sims creates a lively, diverse building community and invites players to expand knowledge about immigrant groups; explore the challenges and opportunities presented by immigrant integration; and recognize the importance of diversity and integration to the overall community’s well-being.

Robolandia (Alexander Cooney)
Honorable Mention: Most Imaginative Gameplay
Players experience immigration first-hand by creating both native and immigrant avatars and controlling their characters’ life decisions over the course of three simulated weeks.

By abstracting people as whimsical robots, and by substituting real communities with a fictional, prosperous island filled with opportunity, players will be able to engage in meaningful dialogue with the underlying social, economic, and residential tensions and opportunities created by immigration without becoming distracted or biased by their real-life manifestations.

Tapestry (Team Kaizen)
Honorable Mention: Best Mechanics as Message
A real-time strategy game that helps players understand the cultural backgrounds of both natives and immigrants in a community.

The player would have to build cultural bridges between all the various peoples so when stressors such as societal/political turmoil come along, the strength of their community tapestry (with each community member being a metaphorical ‘thread’) would be tested. The end goal is to instill behaviors in the player that involve celebrating differences while unifying and finding strength in love and community.

Stand on my Blanket (Natasha Boskic)
Honorable Mention: Best Innovation & Player Engagement
Based on the blanket exercise, this mobile-phone game will encourage players to explore unfamiliar places in their city and interact asynchronously with prior and future participants. By completing a set of tasks intended to help them connect with each other and the wider community, players will hear each other’s narratives and work on issues together. The game enables participants to walk through the process of social unrest, forced displacement, migration out of the country of origin, struggles on the journey, and adaptation in a new country.

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Deadline extended! G4C Festival submissions due March 24

Games for Change Festival 2017

Submissions deadline extended:
Send ideas and games by March 24

Have you been busy with GDC, DICE, and SXSW? Since it’s a jam-packed time of year, we have extended the deadline for submissions to March 24.

We are still looking for new and exciting games for our G4C Awards, as well as forward-thinking speakers to present at our 14th annual G4C Festival, July 31 to August 2. If you have any questions, please contact us at festival@gamesforchange.org.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in their submissions so far!

Game Awards

Each year, we celebrate the year’s best social impact and learning games at our G4C Awards ceremony and feature an on-site arcade of the Awards finalists for Festival attendees to play. If you have launched or will launch a game between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, then go for it!

Categories include: Most Significant Impact, Most Innovative, Best Game Play, Best Learning Game, and Game of the Year.

Deadline: March 24, 11:59 p.m. EST

Session Ideas

The 2017 Festival will focus on emerging areas in the impact games sector, each as a unique track of programming:

  • Neurogaming & Health
  • Civics & Social Impact
  • Games for Learning
  • VR for Change Summit

Have an idea for a talk that doesn’t fit in one of these tracks? Don’t worry — presentations, discussions, demos and challenging ideas outside of these topics are welcome, too!

Deadline: March 24, 11:59 p.m. EST

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A letter to our community & invitation to #ResistJam


A letter to our community

Help us shape the future of Games for Change and
join us in supporting #ResistJam

Dear friends,

It has become clear to us over the last year that the role and vision of Games for Change is as important as ever. So we want to express our enduring commitment to the G4C community and the values we hold in highest regard: diverse perspectives, creative and progressive thinking, respectful dialogue, and collaboration across industries and sectors. Regardless of what happens in the world around us, we will strive to act according to these values.

It’s our 14th year, and as good a time as ever to reaffirm our mission, and also reflect on how we can do better. Many of us are asking the same questions: how do we uphold our values in our work? What projects should we prioritize in these erratic and fast-moving times? Where will funding come from? Who is exemplifying this critical work and how might I learn from them?

Games for Change is actively working to address these questions. Our annual G4C Festival will emphasize diversity and inclusion across all three tracks of programming and our first-ever VR for Change Summit. As such, our team of curators will strive to highlight the work and achievements from underrepresented communities.

As our first effort, G4C is showing its support as a media partner for the #ResistJam game jam, intended as an opportunity for game developers to stand up against authoritarianism, wielding our powerful medium to express sentiments around government policies that potentially exclude individuals from participating in our art form. #ResistJam, presented by IndieCade and partners Devolver Digital, the International Game Developers Association, Raw Fury, and Global Game Jam, launches today and runs until March 11. The event offers mentorship and workshops from experienced members of the games industry to ensure that as many people as possible can participate, no matter their skill level. Join #ResistJam here.

But it does not end with #ResistJam. Here is a request from us to you: where and how do you believe we can best help? What things are you focused on that you believe we should be aware of? What would you like to hear from us at the upcoming G4C Festival?Please get in touch with us; we want to hear from you!

To our vibrant community of game creators, storytellers, and believers in games for impact, thank you for taking risks and continuing to advance our critical field. We hope you feel that you can continue to rely on G4C as an advocate and platform for your work, and appreciate suggestions and feedback for how we can do so.

The Games for Change team

Reminder: Make your voice heard at our Festival

We are accepting submissions for talks, sessions and demos until March 15. Send us your ideas or games here!

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Register for the 2017 G4C Festival and the new VR for Change Summit

Games for Change Festival 2017

Register now and save on all passes with the early-bird rate 

Registration is now open to attend the 14th annual Games for Change Festival, July 31 – August 2 in New York City, produced in collaboration with Parsons School of Design at The New School.

The G4C Festival is the largest convening for the gaming impact community and for exploring the positive power of digital games and virtual technology through conversations, interactive workshops, networking events and a marketplace showcasing new platforms.

This year, experience the VR for Change Summit on August 2 — a brand-new event to explore how virtual technologies can drive social change.

Passes are available for the Festival and the VR for Change Summit separately or purchase a PREMIUM pass to experience all three days.

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Announcing the VR for Change Summit 
The VR for Change Summit is a unique convening on how we can advance virtual technologies for social change. The Summit will bring together developers, storytellers and researchers to explore impact-minded VR, AR, and mixed reality projects. Through a day of interactive exhibits, conversation and keynotes, participants will meet the trailblazers of this new sector.

At past Festivals, we have featured virtual technology leaders including Magic Leap, Valve, Google, Microsoft, HTC, Fove, and MIT Media Lab. This year, there will be a full third day of the Festival dedicated to the potential of these cutting-edge new media across sectors — from journalism and social justice to healthcare and education.

Tickets for the VR for Change Summit can be purchased with Festival passes or separately. We are accepting submissions for talks, sessions and demos here until March 15.

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Reminder: Festival submissions deadline is 2 weeks away 

We are accepting submissions for talks, sessions and demos until March 15. Send us your ideas or games here!

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