Civics & Social Issues program
While we are excited to be branching out this year to support learning– and health-focused games, the heart of the Games for Change Festival has always been its focus on games that address civics and social issues. The Civics & Social Issues track highlights the medium’s ability to engage with contemporary concerns regarding social impact and responsible citizenship. Check out some select sessions and meet the track’s curator below!
Full schedule to be announced tomorrow on the Festival website.
We still have some surprises in store!
TALK: Games and the National Endowment for the Humanities
Join William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and USC professor and Game Innovation Lab director Tracy Fullerton for a conversation on making games for the humanities.
KEYNOTE: Girl Scouts guide to teaching STEM with games
Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez explains how the Girl Scouts is developing a generation of social entrepreneurs and mentors to empower girls with the 21st-century skills and entrepreneurial know-how to succeed in business, improve their communities, and developing their own advocacy and service projects.
KEYNOTE: State of the Industry
Join former GameSpot editor and current managing editor of Feminist Frequency Carolyn Petit as she shares her insights about the current state of the gaming industry. Drawing on her unique experiences as a visible transgender woman at a major videogame site, Carolyn illuminates how certain limiting attitudes and ideas have become entrenched in games culture, and how we can challenge and subvert those ideas.
TALK: Reaching new audiences with interactive stories
Game designer Sam Barlow, creator of the critically acclaimed Her Story and current director of a reboot of War Games at Interlude, explores how telling stories within popular genres can pull in new audiences and enhance interactivity. Taking in notable examples that have looked outside traditional games for their inspiration, he then looks to the future of interactive storytelling.
TALK: Failing to Change
When we speak of our work, we like to focus on our successes. How does this help us learn as a community? It doesn’t! This session with Colleen Macklin, game designer, professor at Parsons School of Design, and founder/co-director of PETLab, focuses on failure and what it can teach us through a meditation on the meaning of failure in games for change and some painfully true stories from the field.
TALK: Playing with nuclear weapons
Paul Carroll of the N Square collaborative discusses how current games treat nuclear catastrophe as a backdrop to narrative, summarizes the current realities of the world’s nuclear weapons status, and shares how with their new game Epic Orphan will be more forward-thinking on how this subject is treated.
TALK: We all want to be in the room where it happens
Gigantic Mechanic co-founder Greg Trefry shares key design insights from making live-action games that combine theatrical elements, role-playing, and face-to-face interaction, such as the Senate Immersion Module for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, games addressing complex issues, and games that facilitate imaginative play between parents and kids.
TALK: Comedy, games, and social change
Humor can play an important role in humanizing difficult situations and helping us feel empathy for characters. Writer, programmer, and visual artist Mx. Dietrich Squinkifer highlights examples of games that effectively use absurdity and silliness to tell memorable stories about living in the world as a marginalized person. You may even actually laugh at some point. Hopefully.
TALK: A global community for global change
Can a volunteer and collaborative approach be applied to game development and distribution? The nonprofit Video Games Without Borders (VGWB) has been experimenting with this approach for more than one year. Join VGWB founder and former Ubisoft producer Francesco Cavallari in analyzing the lessons learned through the development of the organization.
TALK: Empathy Overload: Choice matters
1979 Revolution creator and Grand Theft Auto veteran Navid Khonsari discusses the immense potential of connecting people through interaction and choice-making in games. Using the recent groundbreaking release of 1979 Revolution as a case study, Navid unpacks a bold world vision, and the rewards and pitfalls of making impact-forward, edgy, real stories into games.
TALK: How to be better at sex (in videogames)
Artist, scholar, and writer Robert Yang wants to talk about sex. Most people think sexual intercourse is important, and games should explore important topics, but most design methodologies for making videogames are breathtakingly terrible for depicting sex. Robert considers current popular attitudes about sex in games, common critiques, and better ways to do it all.
Meet the Civics & Social Issues curator:
Matt Parker is a game designer, teacher, and new media artist. His work has been displayed at the American Museum of Natural History, SIGGRAPH Asia, the NY Hall of Science, Museum of the Moving Image, FILE Games Rio, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, and many other venues.
From the curator:
Games are a powerful way to instill empathy and help people connect with others. This year, we are featuring games that use that power to help players identify with underrepresented groups struggling to have their voices heard; cast players in positions of power to confront their biases about how their government works; bridge gulfs between communities; and much more.
Games can help people understand nuanced relationships in ways other media cannot, and we are very proud to be highlighting some of the most impactful games that do just that, whether from organizations dedicated to improving our world or designers using their art to convey meaningful messages.