Submit Games, Talks, & Pitches to the
2015 G4C Festival (Deadline 12/15)

1411_G4C15_nyc-skyline_s
 
As promised, here’s everything you need to submit your work and ideas to the 2015 Games for Change Festival! A limited number of games, talks, and pitches will be selected and receive complimentary Festival passes. Deadlines for all categories are December 15, 11:59 p.m. EST.

 

Diversity and Inclusion

 
A core value for G4C inside and outside of games, diversity is particularly on our minds due to recent game industry developments. We invite submissions that engage all genders, cultures, races, socio-economic status, and backgrounds. Projects that directly foster diversity will receive special attention as we feel that it’s critical to showcase innovation that challenges the status quo.

 

TALKS

Topics include game design for impact, financing, distribution, new technologies and platforms, and diversity and inclusivity. Presentations, discussions, demos, and provocative rants are all welcome! SUBMIT HERE.

GAME
AWARDS

Expert jurors from games, social impact, and media will select finalists to be showcased at the Festival and presented at the annual ceremony. If you have launched or will launch a game for change between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, then go for it! SUBMIT HERE.

PITCHES

We'll select the most compelling in-development games for our on-stage pitch session, hosted by game designer and NYU professor Eric Zimmerman. Place your next great project right in front of top funders and the audience to receive exposure and meaningful feedback. SUBMIT HERE.

Posted in G4C Festival | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Festival Submissions Open Nov. 14:
Send your games, talks, and pitches

1411_g4c15-awards-content-submissions_banner_f12_blast

We’re looking for speakers, games, and pitches to be a part of the 2015 Games for Change Festival! A limited number of talks and games will be selected and receive complimentary passes to the Festival. There is no fee for submitting.

We will follow up with a reminder and information on how to submit next week. Deadlines for all categories will be December 15, 11:59 p.m. EST.

Learn about the different categories below. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

TALKS

We want speakers from both inside and outside the field with knowledge to share about game design for impact, production, financing, distribution, research, new technologies and platforms, and transmedia. Presentations, discussions, demos, and rants are all welcome!

GAME
AWARDS

The Festival honors the most impactful, innovative, and engaging games for change of the year. Expert jurors, including leaders in games, social impact, and media, will select finalists to be showcased at the Festival for attendees to play. If you have launched or will launch a game for change between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, we want to know about it!

PITCHES

We’ll select the most compelling in-development games for our on-stage pitch session, giving them the opportunity to place their next great project right in front of top funders. If selected, your elevator pitch might just make your project become a reality.

Posted in G4C Festival | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Save the Date! 12th G4C Festival Returns April 21-23 & 25 with Tribeca Film Festival

1409_G4C-Public-Arcade-feather-banner_s_blog

Put it in your calendar: Once again, the Games for Change (G4C) Festival, the largest gaming event in New York City, joins the Tribeca Film Festival’s Innovation Week. It will feature a three-day professional conference (April 21-23) and a daylong public arcade on April 25 at the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair, sharing games for social impact with up to 300,000 people on the streets of Manhattan.

From April 21 to 23, we’ll have:

• The world’s top thought leaders in games and social impact
• Visionary game makers
• The year’s best games for change
• Unequalled networking opportunities

 
And this year, we’ll be adding:

• Even more chances to connect with fellow attendees
• Day passes: You can join for all days or only one or two
• New Tribeca Film Festival benefits
… and stay tuned for more exciting updates!

 
We’ll continue to send more info as the 2015 Festival takes shape. Keep an eye out for our call for talks and games in the following months! And in the meantime, check out the 2014 Festival’s highlights:

• Videos of talks and panels our YouTube channel
• Photos of speakers, workshops, digital and live games, and more
• Articles to get you caught up on what happened
• A recap by the numbers

 

1409_G4C-Public-Arcade-sesame-st-box-heads_s_blog
Gigantic Mechanic’s Sesame Street Box Heads at the 2014 G4C Public Arcade at the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair.

Posted in G4C Festival | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Win a Trip to IndieCade Next Month from The Games Forum

[ The contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! The Games Forum will announce a winner soon. ]

1409_IndieCade_blog

The Games Forum is accepting entries for its giveaway, where one winner will receive an all-access pass and $500 travel credit to IndieCade, an international festival of independent games in Culver City, California, from October 9 to 12.

IndieCade supports independent game development through international events showcasing the future of independent games. It cultivates innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant. The annual IndieCade festival is the largest of its kind and is a great opportunity for game developers to bring their work to the international stage.

The Games Forum is a New York City-based company that empowers and grows local game development communities through education, networking and collaboration. This is accomplished through workshops, classes, and events for game developers and those aspiring to make games. Best known for its demo nights and playtest nights that draw hundreds from inside and outside the development community, The Games Forum hosts events in New York City and Boston.

Posted in Events, Opportunities | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

PEACEApp: Win $5,000 & More for Your Peace-Building Game or Prototype

carousel-1_634

Have a great game about facilitating peace or an idea for one? Submit it to PEACEapp, a competition that aims to showcase the work of developers who examine peace and promote games as venues for cultural dialogue and conflict management. Send your entry here by the October 15 deadline.

Sponsored by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the United Nations Development Programme, and Build Up, the competition will award the winning entries with $15,000 in cash prizes, an invitation to present their game at the Build Peace Conference in Cyprus, and exclusive mentoring and advising from Games for Change. The competition will consider entries at all stages of development, from prototypes to fully developed, with awards going to five games or apps—three completed works and two prototypes.

Key Dates

  • October 15: Submissions due
  • November 30: Announcement of winners
  • January 31: Dispersal of awards
  • April 25-26, 2015: Winners will be invited to send one representative (all travel costs covered) to Cyprus to present their game or app to Build Peace Conference participants.

What Do You Get?

3 Completed Game Winners 2 Prototype Game Winners
  • $5,000 in recognition of efforts with hope that the prize money can spread the reach of your game or app
  • One member of team invited to Cyprus to present game or app at Build Peace Conference (travel costs paid)
  • Recognition on partner websites
  • Opportunity to present design and network with other funders, activists, and designers
  • Close mentorship from expert developers to help bring your prototype to release
  • One member of team invited to Cyprus to present game or app at Build Peace Conference (travel costs paid)
  • Recognition on partner websites
  • Opportunity to present design and network with other funders, activists, and designers

PEACEapp Criteria

An international jury, which includes representatives from Games for Peace, the Institute for Economics and Peace, Fields of View, Games for Change, and more, will review submitted games and apps according to three values:

  • Affording users a novel experience to engage with knowledge of other groups and issues of identity
  • Creatively engaging players in a playful manner
  • Enabling connections to key social media globally, in terms of functionality, language and reach

 
Click here for a complete competition guidelines, and then submit your entry. We look forward to seeing your games!

Posted in Opportunities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summer Update: Cities of Learning, Half the Sky Movement, and More

7a377b99-6cc3-4ac5-af63-35ae49422c02

Next Stop, Chicago!

Join us for a Summer of Learning


As part of the nationwide Cities of Learning initiative and following on the first G4C Public Arcade at the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair, we’ve brought together an online arcade of award-winning games to encourage youth to play on- and offline this summer.

Once players finish the arcade games, they can then unplug and take the experience off-screen by completing real-world activities and earn digital badges as proof of their achievements. For example, after tackling poverty in SPENT, they can go the extra mile and do something to help the homeless in their own community. Or after deciding innocence or guilt in We the Jury’s mock trials, they can research the real deal by interviewing the real-life jury pool — family or friends.

Cities of Learning evolved from the Chicago Summer of Learning program, launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year to encourage youth to stay on track academically and gain job skills over the summer. Building on last year’s success — 100,000 youth participated in activities hosted by more than 100 organizations — the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Open Badges, and Digital Youth Network are expanding Cities of Learning from Chicago to Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

The G4C digital arcade will be available in all of these cities, and at the end of the summer, participants’ games and projects from around the country will be displayed at the Chicago Summer Showcase on August 14, where we’ll also have the arcade games available to play. Check out select games below!

 

SimCityEDU

Glasslab, EA

Save your city from pollution — on screen and off! Make a dent in pollution in your own world with simple steps to trim your garbage footprint. How low can you go?

 

 

Quandary

G4C Award Winner: Game of the Year 2013
FableVision Studios, Learning Games Network

Conquer tough choices as the captain of a far-off planet and then tackle tough choices right here on planet Earth.

 

SPENT

G4C Award Winner: Most Significant Impact 2012
McKinney, Urban Ministries of Durham

Play SPENT, a game that faces down poverty, and take real-world action to help someone in need.

 

 

Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey

G4C Award Winner: Most Significant Impact 2014
THIRTEEN/WNET, Electric Funstuff

Make history and time travel back to 1866! Then make your own history on Google Map Maker.

 

 

We the Jury

iCivics, Filament Games

Decide guilt or innocence as a juror. Then research the real deal, asking others for their jury duty stories.

 

 

 

GlassLab Games

Play SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! and Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy to build problem-solving and reasoning skills while earning a badge for each game!

 

 

 

Filament Games

From running your own crazy plant shop to controlling the cells that keep your body healthy, these seven games are as entertaining as they are educational. Earn a badge for each one you play.

 

 

 

Make a game in Gamestar Mechanic!

E-Line Media

Think of a topic, learn about game making, and make your own game for change. One fabulous game will be selected to be showcased at the Games for Change Arcade at Chicago Summer Showcase. It could be yours!

 


Half the Sky Games on the Road… to Android

Work to bring our Half the Sky Movement (HTSM) Facebook and mobile games to audiences in India and Kenya is now well underway as part of the HTSM Media and Technology Engagement Initiative, supported by USAID and led by Show of Force. We’ve also begun to adapt some of the Facebook game content to Android as standalone apps.

The initiative includes NGO partners working in India and Kenya, HTSM documentary producers, the Annenberg Center for Global Communication Studies (monitoring and evaluation), and Ogilvy (marketing and PR). Together, we are adapting all media from the project — the TV series, the Facebook game, the three mobile games, short educational videos, social media strategy, and more — to new local audiences in India and Kenya.

e0bf1a40-cca4-4be8-85ab-cb468783f90d

Meet the NGOs

G4C and Show of Force just wrapped up hands-on training with NGO partners, Save the Children in India (pictured above), and Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) in Kenya, to integrate the games into their existing community programs.

The three feature phone games, playable on Nokia C2-01, Nokia 2730, and compatible phones, cover prenatal care (9 Minutes), deworming awareness (Worm Attack!), and the value of girls in their family (Family Choices). The NGOs will lead community discussion groups, where participants play the games and then role-play activities to explore their themes and messages. These games will also point toward other media and services via SMS messaging and links.

Additionally, YWLI will play and explore narratives in the HTSM Facebook game as a centerpiece on their moderated online forum. They will prompt participants to consider aspects of the game and their own lives through open-ended discussions.

From Facebook to Android

Our initial plan was to translate Half the Sky Movement: The Game on Facebook for Indian and Kenyan players. However, earlier visits with our NGO partners revealed that few of their community members would have access to Facebook, and those who do have access do not use Facebook in local languages. Almost everyone reads it in English.

So we decided to create instead a series of offline apps for those who would not have regular Internet access. We asked our friends at Frima Studio, the makers of the Facebook game, to adapt the same stories and characters into an offline choose-your-own-adventure version for Android phones, which are prevalent in cities in India and Kenya. The Android games will be available this fall on the Google Play store.

8317ca31-eb72-4d77-8ab5-5d0553ee384c

Our Kenyan NGO partners YWLI and SHOFCO play through the Facebook game in our training session last month.

A Grassroots Approach to Publishing

In India, our local game partner ZMQ will lead on the distribution of the games through existing health care and school programs that are supported by the Indian government and already have the needed technology.

Frontline health care workers, who travel to communities with limited or no access to institutionalized health care, will carry the games on their mobile phones, which are provided to them by the Indian government. Patients can play the games while they wait to see the doctor or along with the health care workers. The health care providers can also transfer the games from their phones to patients’ phones over Bluetooth.

In schools, teachers will receive training on playing the mobile games with students in the classroom. Teachers will also host classroom contests with the mobile games, as students compete for the highest score in 9 Minutes or Worm Attack!.

In Kenya, Leti Arts, our local game partner, plans to spread the word about the games through another medium entirely — comics. They learned in past projects that audiences are reluctant to download or try digital games that they’re not familiar with from app stores, even if they’re free, because they don’t know what they’re getting. However, if they’re familiar with the content, they’ll go to great lengths to get it. For example, an elderly woman will learn to use SMS to download music to her phone because she loves the song, and knows what to expect.

Leti Arts plans to introduce the games’ narrative and characters through comics, a more traditional medium that’s much more familiar and accessible. Mobile ambassadors from their Mobiv-8 Youth Network will distribute the printed comics, which will point readers who want to learn more to the Android games.

In this next phase of the HTSM transmedia project, for the first time, we’re promoting and distributing the games at local and national levels, none of which would be possible without our NGO and publishing partners.


Games Examine War Away from the Battlefield

436a463b-417b-4bb9-9188-56004ea559fe (Image by Tara Jacoby, via Kotaku)

Countless games have thrown players into heated warzones, whether as a soldier holding a gun ready to fire or an almighty commander who oversees the entire battlefield, moving units around.

What’s less examined in games is what’s happening off the battlefield and the consequences of violence. Recently, however, we see more developers who are examining war’s impact on civilians. We’ve made a list of games that we’re looking forward to and a list of thought-provoking titles to play right now.

To Play Right Now:  To Watch For:  

 


Community Updates

8b9e9127-4766-4a41-b276-84b553a1e2c1

News and previews from Games for Change Festival alum:

Nevermind
The developers of biofeedback-enhanced horror game Nevermind have partnered with Intel. The winners of our 2014 Pitch Event, Nevermind‘s team will integrate Intel’s motion- and emotion-sensing RealSense 3D camera, allowing players to experience the game without additional hardware.

Never Alone
First announced at the 2013 Festival, Never Alone has released a new video about its development process and seen glowing reactions from the press as it approaches its fall release this year.

Off Grid
Rich Metson, one of the developers of data privacy game Off Grid, recaps his Pitch Event experience and interviews with Kill Screen and The Verge.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Games for Change Seeks Production Intern

Games for Change is seeking a full-time production intern to assist with a range of game development projects.

We’re Looking for Someone Who’s…:

  • Passionate about and interested in social impact games and video game development (production, design, and development).
  • Organized, self-motivated, and proactive.
  • Able to work with remote teams.

Position Details:

  • Opening available immediately.
  • Based in Boston or New York City with the possibility of remote work for the right candidate.
  • For school credit only. Applicants must be enrolled in a college or university level program and be eligible to receive school credit.

How to Apply:

Games for Change invites any interested interns to send us your resume along with the following information to contact [at] gamesforchange [dot] org:

  • School, program, and year of expected graduation.
  • Overview of interest and experience with games (design, play, tools used, etc.).
  • Details on any prior related internship experience.
Posted in G4C Announcement | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

2014 Games for Change Europe Festival: Education, Activism, and Neurogaming

1406_G4C-Europe-Festival2

The Games for Change Europe Festival made its return to Paris last week for its second conference from June 15 to 17, with games and talks from students and experts alike.

On the first day of the Festival, the winning game in the Games for Change Europe Challenge, narrowed down from 96 student teams representing 13 countries, was announced. Congratulations to Outcasted, a first-person simulation for the Oculus Rift of the social exclusion that homeless face daily, on their big win! The final nine nominees in the Challenge also demoed their concepts to Festival attendees.

The following two days featured talks on games as activism and how they can educate, engage, and provide learning opportunities. See tweets from the audience and from speakers, including game designer Lea Schoenfelder (Perfect Woman), Director of Development for Xbox One Multerer Boyd, Epic Games’ UX Manager Celia Hodent, game designer Olivier Mauco, Game the News’ Tomas Rawlings, and more!

See the full recap on Storify.

Posted in G4C Festival | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bring on the Apocalypse: Deep City 2030 Devs on Keeping it Weird (and Fun) in Environmental Sims

1405_deepcity_splash_s_all_360tall

For the first time, the majority of the world’s population lives in a city, a trend the World Health Organization says it expects to grow, with six of every 10 people living in a city by 2030. How urban centers manage their resources and waste will determine the future of our world, which is what city management simulator Deep City 2030 aims to foretell by giving players the reigns in an environmental apocalypse.

Deep City 2030, in development for iOS by Kolody Inc., sends the player to a dystopian (and at times absurd) future and tasks them with sorting out the mess, from very real-world threats, such as diminishing resources, overcrowding, and megastorms, to fictional but equally destructive terrors like giant cats with killer laser beams.

We recently caught up with Chris Lowry from the development team for Deep City 2030, which we last saw at the 2013 Games For Change (G4C) Festival, as he and his team launch an Indiegogo campaign to create a playable demo and prepare for the game’s fall 2015 launch.

What’s happened with Deep City 2030 since its appearance at the 2013 G4C’s Demo Spotlight? What’s new and what challenges still remain?

We were encouraged and inspired by our experience at G4C in 2013. The positive feedback about the edgy humor, and the questions about how we would be able to integrate documentary content, all that helped us a lot as we continued to develop the gameplay concept with our team.

The validation of the Demo Spotlight, being invited and appreciated in New York, was really helpful in our efforts to get new partners on board including first our partnership with the green city nonprofit Evergreen Cityworks. G4C gave us street cred to win some pro bono support from the innovation acceleration agency here it Toronto, MaRS.

Best of all, we met G4C President Asi Burak at the Festival, and he joined our advisory board for Deep City 2030 along with the chief planner of the City of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, and the CEO of family entertainment company DHX Media, Steven DeNure.

What’s the inspiration for Deep City 2030?

What we have tried to do in Deep City 2030 is to combine gameplay mechanics that work well to keep the player fully engaged and entertained. It’s a hybrid of an open-world strategy game like Civilization, it’s a kind of city-building game like Sim City in reverse, it’s multiplayer with simple effective mechanisms for both competition and cooperation like Clash of Clans, and it offers the latitude to pursue power and be effective by aggressive or tricky means, to see the consequences of your choices in terms of the morale of the population or the reactions of other players, like Fable or the classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The design reflects a good understanding of what works and what’s entertaining in a range of games, including triple A.

How does Deep City 2030 differ from previous environmental management sims?

In a word, it’s more fun. We start from the premise that it needs to be entertaining first, and we would subscribe to the motto of Austin Texas – “keep it weird”. In Deep City 2030 energy is the only currency, but that is where the similarity to any environmental management sim ends. It’s impossible to make a smart game about the future that is not about environmental management, but it doesn’t have to be bitter medicine. In Deep City 2030 you can mess with the apocalypse!

DC_DEFEND

Your recent trailer shows a bit of the game in action. Can you describe the flow of gameplay and the actions and decisions players are expected to make?

The player is put in control of a failing city, plagued by pollution, ignorance, and unpoliced streets. Your city has six distinguishable features that are direct representations of City Attributes: Education, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Public Services, Industry, Health, and Power Grid. Players will be able to control and evolve cities across a number of different key touch points (i.e., industry, energy, etc.), unlock special abilities, and harness energy for actions to the benefit or detriment of others. Additionally, players will be able to join player groups called Protectorates that provide additional access to social mechanics and even the in-game United Nations.

As with the real world, there are a lot of methods to get ahead. Cooperative or solo play, righteous or ruthless – all methods will have viable, game-balanced options for success. Energy is the only currency: it powers ambitions such as upgrades and campaigns, is used to expand your sphere of influence to take control of cities, and appeases the Overload in the form of a payment. Achievements will be linked to gameplay, rewarding users with points, badges, unique content, and ideally premium and relevant video narrative material at key events. The achievement system will encourage users to explore all paths of gameplay available (solo, multiplayer, “good” or “evil” play styles, acquisition plateaus, etc.).

Morale is the only metric of conquest. When a city’s morale is run into the ground, they’ll welcome your leadership and protection. Citizens who are happy are resilient to disruptions, negative campaigns, and contribute to the health of your city and domain.

1406_DeepCity_team_s_634

Part of the Deep City 2030 team: (from left to right) Greg Greene of Planet Greene, Chris Lowry of Ecotone, Colin Turnbull, and Tara Luxmore of Kolody.

How did you come to partner with Ecotone Productions, Planet Greene Productions (makers of the documentary “The End of Suburbia”) and Evergreen CityWorks? What percentage of game proceeds will go to Evergreen CityWorks’ programs?

Mark Kolody, Greg Greene, and I put our heads together to come up with a game idea that would be wickedly entertaining and that could make a contribution to our understanding of how cities need to evolve in the future. We’re all storytellers, and at the same time we are all fascinated by the idea of resilient cities and their sci-fi shadow, failed cities.

Greg made a popular documentary film some years ago about the end of cheap energy. Ecotone is my company, and I bring 30 years of production and sustainability expertise to the project. Evergreen CityWorks brings deep expertise on resilient cities to our partnership. They will help us source and manage financing for the project, and when the game is successful, 50% of revenue will go to Evergreen CityWorks programs.

You mention on your website that making Deep City 2030 will cost $500k. Can you break that down for us?

The budget includes all the creative and production talent and costs for the development (15%), story research and writing (15%), to design and build the game (60%), and to do the beta testing and launch (10%).

What kind of support have you received so far, financially or otherwise? What’s helped the most before launching your Indiegogo campaign?

Everyone involved has been putting sweat equity into it for a couple of years. We have received some seed funds from members and friends of the team to cover the hard costs of producing demos and to build the crowdfunding campaign, as well as market research help from MaRS, so pro bono legal support, and a lot of valuable support from our nonprofit partner, Evergreen CityWorks. It has been crucial to be able to accept donations for project development through Evergreen, and this will continue to be important after the Indiegogo campaign is complete. Accepting donations through a nonprofit charitable partner allows us to offer a Canadian charitable tax receipt to donors who prefer that route. So far we have received two donations from angels in this way for a total of $25,000 which Evergreen’s has contributed to development costs as a co-producer.

Deep City 2030 has some, um, interesting characters. Could you explain why disco Jesus, Lazer Cat, and a harp-playing cow appear? How do you create these or decide what to include?

These characters emerge from the fevered brains of our design team. The world is full of people who can build games, but original ideas and design are the pixie dust that makes a good game. LaserCat and Disco Jesus are just the beginning. There are lots more surprises to come when we really get down to building the game over the coming year.

Posted in Interview | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Combining Art and Science: The Making of Moon Rush, the People’s Choice in Our Shoot for the Moon Contest

[This interview originally appeared on the Schusterman Foundation’s blog.]

web_2
Cheng Zhang (right) and Sheri Larimer of the Ohio State University won the People’s Choice Award in the Shoot for the Moon game design contest for their concept Moon Rush.

As part of the 11th Annual Games for Change Festival, the Schusterman Foundation teamed up with Games for Change to sponsor a game design contest. Contestants were charged with designing a game that would support SpaceIL’s mission to the Moon. SpaceIL, a front-runner for the Google Lunar X Prize, is an Israel-based nonprofit organization aiming to land a spacecraft on the Moon by 2015.

Submissions were pared down to three finalists who received two complimentary passes to the 2014 Games for Change Festival, where they presented their concepts in front of a live jury and top funders. Among the finalists was Lunar Rocks, a two-person team from the Ohio State University who presented the game Moon Rush.

For the first time, we opened voting to the public with the People’s Choice Award, which went to Lunar Rocks’ game Moon Rush. Although Lunar Rocks was not selected for the $25,000 grand prize, which went to Theorify for SpaceIL Academy, they were still a crowd favorite as shown by the hundreds of votes they received online.

We also offered three passes to next year’s Festival (2015) to three lucky voters. These randomly selected voters are: Diane H., Melissa T., and Olga B. Congratulations!

Learn more about the People’s Choice award-winning game from Lunar Rocks’ Cheng Zhang, who took a few minutes to answer questions about her experience in creating Moon Rush.

What motivated you to enter the Shoot for the Moon game design competition, and where did you find inspiration to create Moon Rush?

I have a passion for space exploration and astronomy and have accumulated a great amount of knowledge about the Moon, particularly in the historic Apollo mission through my MFA thesis project The Moon Experience.

When I saw the announcement, I knew this is a great opportunity for me to further develop The Moon Experience and to make it more useful and more accessible. I found many things inspired me to create Moon Rush, including the Apollo program, Google Lunar X Prize, SpaceIL’s mission, and popular games such as Minecraft.

Tell us a little bit about your team. Who is part of the team? How did you get together to create Moon Rush?
The Lunar Rocks team includes two graduate students, Cheng Zhang and Sheri Larrimer.

Cheng Zhang is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science & Engineering Department at the Ohio State University. Her research interests includes computer games, virtual reality, computer animation, and general topics in computer graphics. Cheng was a software engineer developing commercial software in Silicon Valley for several years and has a passion for space exploration and astronomy.

Sheri Larrimer is an MFA candidate at the Ohio State University studying design with a focus on digital animation and interactive media. In the last week before the contest deadline, Sheri saw Cheng was busy with her proposal and wanted to help so she joined the team.

Finally, Dr. Roger Crawfis is our team’s advisor. He is an associate professor at the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at The Ohio State University.

web_1

We want to hear more about your game! What does it accomplish? How did you come up with the concept? How does the game work?

Moon Rush tries to accomplish two goals: (1) crowdsource useful, scientific data and creative ideas for SpaceIL; (2) help players to learn the basic concepts of physics, math, and related science.

Our proposed prototype contains a two-module structure based on these two goals. One module is for the SpaceIL team to customize the game and gameplay through loading up different simulation models to the game or filtering out the players’ data that don’t meet the SpaceIL team’s criteria. The other module is for players, which allows players to load up their own designs of rockets, spaceships, or robots in their personal game space. If the designs are promising and approved by the SpaceIL team, the designs are available to all players.

We designed the game with 15 to 25 year olds in mind, and we hope the game inspires the younger generation to think differently about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Our audience doesn’t have to know a lot of about science and math to play the game. However, through the gameplay, the audience should be able to figure out a lot of basic concepts while advanced audiences could contribute reliable, useful simulation data to the SpaceIL team via the gameplay.

What tools did you use to create your prototype and why? How long did it take to create the game from start to finish?

Brainstorming is one of my favorite approaches for prototyping, but specifically, Moon Rush was created with Unity, Maya, and other software. The time to finish the game really depends on the specification of the SpaceIL team. I would say it could take from six months to one year based on the current prototype and current member of the team.

How will the game help the SpaceIL mission to the moon?

As mentioned, SpaceIL mission has two concrete goals – one is for SpaceIL teams to collect useful and reliable scientific data. The other is for end players to be engaged and to promote studies of physics, math, and the related science. Our two-module game design helps the SpaceIL team collect useful data while engaging players to the gameplay and promote science study.

What is the biggest risk you have ever taken personally or professionally? How did it pay off?

The biggest risk I have taken is that taking the design MFA program during my computer science Ph.D. program. In the end, I think it was worth pursuing both art and science in my career.

I know this because my work has been recognized a few times now: Moon Rush won the People’s Choice Award in the Shoot for the Moon game design contest at the Games for Change Festival. The Moon Experience was selected and demoed at the Center of Science and Industry, the science museum in Columbus, Ohio, and in STEAM factory and “The Solar System,” a short educational animation, was adapted by a Netherlands national television program.

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

I would like to have dinner with Leonardo De Vinci, Nikola Tesla, or Neil Armstrong. I’m curious how Leonardo used his superb intellect, unusual powers of observation and mastery of the art of drawing to study nature itself, a line of inquiry that allowed his dual pursuits of art and science to flourish.

Who or what inspires you to get out of bed every day?

All good things in the world motivate me to work hard every day.

Tell us one thing about you we might not know by looking at you.

I love gardening. I have more than 20 indoor plants in my home!

 


 
On June 18, Schusterman will host its #NetTalks webinar, Gaming For Good, where attendees can learn how digital games can support organization’s mission. Register here to hear from G4C President Asi Burak, Kfir Damari of SpaceIL, and Theorify’s Jasmine Bulin, who will show the latest demo of SpaceIL Academy.

Posted in G4C Festival | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment