G4C Industry Circle: Amplify Games on extending learning in and outside of school

WRAPPING UP THE INDUSTRY CIRCLE SERIES

 
We are pleased to present our last article in our 2015/16 Industry Circle series, which aims to acknowledge the achievements and challenges in the growing social impact games industry. We hope you enjoy the following article from Amplify Games, and we’ll see you at our Google Hangout Q&A with the Amplify team on May 10! RSVP here.
 
G4C Industry Circle Amplify Games
 

EXTENDING LEARNING IN AND OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL

 
At Amplify Games, we are focused on the importance of extending learning both in and outside of school.

We all know that high-quality digital tools and interactive experiences can add great value when well integrated into classroom instruction. But we also know that instructional time is extremely limited and educators always have a great deal of material (often too much) to cover. Have you ever heard a teacher say, “I have too much time with my students and not enough content to fill that time”? Of course not! That’s why our mission at Amplify Games is to captivate students with educational games that will motivate them to increase the amount of time they spend and their engagement with complex texts and ideas, both in the classroom and in their free time.

Here are some lessons learned from our experiences creating learning games that might help you design games that excite and engage students.

We partner with world-class game designers so the students who play our games don’t have to give up the exceptional graphics and production value they expect from their favorite games. The games were designed by commercial game designers and studios in collaboration with leading academics and pedagogy experts to help strengthen engagement and skills in English language arts (ELA), math, and science.

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As one student said, “I’ve been playing games for my whole life, but I never knew there would be a game that I would love that was for learning. That shocked me so much. … It reminds me I’m just sitting home in my man cave, just playing and playing.” (Yes, this 6th grader has a man cave for game playing, so you know he’s a tough critic!)

It’s not enough just to make educational content sufficiently palatable so that students can stomach the learning component, while still considering the learning part to be yucky. So our approach is to actively inspire students and help build their confidence in key academic domains including algebra, life science, and the close reading of literature.

We spent three years conducting iterative playtesting with over 1,000 students, developing our relationships with groups of playtesters over 8- to 10-week sessions to get the most useful feedback. Now these students have evolved a framework for thinking about key academic topics—they say they’re considering a career in medicine after playing our science games or that our math games “helped me realize that you can do anything with numbers.”

The more time students have with such learning games, the more room for these transformational moments. And when students play engaging games outside of classroom instruction, they get incremental exposure to critical academic topics and skills. That’s why we encourage schools to identify opportunities for students to access our games outside the typical class schedule. Some schools set aside rooms where students can play the games during lunch and after school; others allow the students to take tablets home at night and on weekends. Our ELA games are integrated with a digital library of over 600 texts, ranging from classics to contemporary, fiction and nonfiction; along with the games, students can benefit from extended access to this library outside of class.

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A recent report by Common Sense Media shows that on average, students ages 8 to 12 spend almost 4.5 hours of screen time every day, not including time spent for school or homework. For teens, that number increases to over 6.5 hours every day. With Amplify Games, educators can reclaim some of that screen time for extended reading and learning, without cutting into their valuable and limited instructional time.

For more about our game design philosophy and school implementations, join us on May 10 for a special G4C Industry Circle Google Hangout. We’ll discuss how our goal to create meaningful games for extended voluntary play translated into the guiding principles for our development process, and we’ll share insights from our research about how students are engaging with our games outside the classroom.

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More G4C Festival talks // Early-bird pricing ends tonight!

2016 Games for Change Festival banner
 

Time is almost out!
Early-bird rates on Festival passes
expire tonight!

 
Your last chance to pick up early-bird passes to the Games for Change Festival (June 23-24) is tonight at 11:59 p.m. EST. Register now and save $50!
 

Register


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Announcing more speakers!


Here are just some of the speakers you will hear from at the Festival’s three tracks: Games for Learning, Neurogaming & Health, and Civics & Social Issues. Miss our first announcement about speakers? Check it out here.
 
Civics & Social Issues
This track highlights games’ ability to engage with concerns around social justice and responsible citizenship.

William Adams
Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities

Sean Vanaman
Designer and writer, Firewatch

Sam Barlow
Developer, Her Story

Games for Learning
Hear from emerging leaders in game-based learning at our second annual Games for Learning Summit.

Graeme Devine
Chief game wizard, Magic Leap

Deirdre Quarnstrom
Director, Microsoft Education

Porter Stowell
Head of strategy and business development, IBM Serious Games

Neurogaming & Health
These sessions will explore the interactive experiences that aim to improve our brains and bodies.

Mike Ambinder
Experimental psychologist, Valve Corporation

Robin Arnott
Developer, SoundSelf

Stanley Yang
CEO, NeuroSky
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Games and Media Summit wrap-up

 

Back from the future:
Games and Media Summit wrap-up

 

On Monday, we hosted our second annual Games and Media Summit at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here are some highlights!

  • $20,000 raised for GameChanger Charity: In our Playing for Change charity game-a-thon, celebrity livestreamers CaptainSparklez and Tom Syndicate raised nearly $20,000 for GameChanger Charity, which brings video games to terminally ill children in hospitals. 
  • $10,000 awarded in Feed the Pig game design competition: Artist Scott Garner won a grand prize of $10,000 for his game concept, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, which explores how your choices affect the future by visiting the future. The Feed the Pig Challenge tasked game developers to create a game to engage young Americans to think differently about savings, debt and financial security.
  • Challenge of Diversity winner received $10,000 grant: Interlude announced the winner of a $10,000 production grant for The Challenge of Diversity, a competition where the game developer and filmmaker communities were asked to collaborate and create an interactive series. Check out the winner’s and finalists’ videos here.
  • 14 interactive games and experiences: From games with costumes as controllers to augmented and virtual reality, the G4C Arcade at the Summit highlighted games’ powerful potential and gave a glimpse into what they’ll look like in the not-too-distant future.
  • Sold-out panels and sessions: Videos coming soon to our YouTube channel! The Summit featured talks on community cultivation, mental health, cognitive therapy, gender and diversity, and more.

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Games for Change Festival early-bird deadline extended!



 

Early-bird deadline extended!

 

We’re extending the deadline for early-bird passes to the Games for Change Festival! Register by April 29 to save $50. Don’t forget to check out our first look at Festival speakers.
 

Register

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Announcing the first G4C Festival speakers!

2016 Games for Change Festival banner

Announcing the first keynote speakers!


This year’s Games for Change Festival offers three tracks, each with their own lineup of stellar speakers: Games for Learning, Neurogaming & Health, and Civics & Social Issues.
 

Register

 

Games for Learning
Hear from emerging leaders in game-based learning, including a keynote by Magic Leap’s Chief Game Wizard Graeme Devine and a panel on VR in the classroom featuring Valve, Google Education, and Blippar. Then go hands-on with Minecraft Education, includification advocates AbleGamers, and the live-action roleplayers at Classcraft in our workshops.

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Neurogaming & Health
Take a deep dive into the interactive experiences that aim to improve our brains and bodies. NeuroSky CEO Stanley Yang breaks down the history of NeuroSky biosensors, from their Star Wars Force Trainer and beyond. Six to Start CEO and founder Adrian Hon presents his studio’s ongoing work in health apps and their game Zombies, Run!, which boasts 2.5 million players.

 

Civics & Social Issues
This track highlights games’ ability to engage with concerns around social justice and responsible citizenship. Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez speaks about encouraging girls in STEM and video games. Feminist Frequency managing editor Carolyn Petit, who collaborates on the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series and reviews games from a feminist perspective, delivers our annual State of the Industry.
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Tonight: Games and Media Summit regular registration pricing ends!

Games and Media Summit

Not many passes remain for the Games and Media SummitPass prices increase tonight at 11:59 p.m. EST, so be sure to get yours and save now.

(Please note the Games and Media Summit and Games for Change Festival are separate events that require separate registrations!)
 

Register

 

Games and Media Summit - Program

The Games and Media Summit program features talks from NYU professor Ken Perlin, neuroscientist Dr. Adam Gazzaley, Twitch and YouTube gaming stars, the creator of the critically acclaimed game Her Story, Monument Valley makers ustwo, and the pioneers behind biofeedback in Major League Baseball.
 

Games and Media Summit - Arcade
Immerse yourself in other worlds at the G4C Arcade, open all day at the Summit. Try VR experiences that bring documentary filmmaking to life, play games that react to your emotions, wear costumes that function as game controllers, explore museums through augmented reality, and more.

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3 days left for regular registration for the Games and Media Summit

Games and Media Summit

Prices for passes to the Games and Media Summit go up on April 8. Save $50 by registering before 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 7!

(Please note the Games and Media Summit and Games for Change Festival are separate events that require separate registrations!)
 

Register


 
1979 Revolution: Black Friday

INSTALLATION: 1979 Revolution: Black Friday
Black Friday is a choice-driven, narrative game that brings players into the brooding world of a nation on the verge of collapse. Play as Reza, an aspiring photojournalist, and make life and death decisions as you survive the gritty streets of Iran in the late 1970s.
 

Play For Change banner

CHARITY GAME-A-THON: Playing for Change
Announced last week, our charity game-a-thon Playing for Change will stream live from the Games and Media Summit to benefit GameChanger Charity!

Popular Twitch and YouTube Gaming stars Tom Syndicate, CaptainSparklez, and 20 fellow streamers will compete in Minecraft Ultra Hardcore (UHC) mode, where online viewers can donate to send in-game items to their favorite players and influence the competition.

Keep an eye on this website toward the end of the week, when we’ll be announcing special pre-stream events where you can play mini-games, meet up with celebrity Minecrafters, build with friends, and win prizes.

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Finalists of the Feed the Pig Game Design Challenge Announced!

1603_game challenge_banners_feed_the_pig

We are thrilled to announce the three Feed the Pig Challenge finalists, who will pitch their game ideas live on-stage at our Games and Media Summit at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18.

With our partners at Ad Council and AICPA, we will award a prize of $10,000 to the winner and $5,000 to the two finalists. 

The Feed the Pig Challenge asked participants to submit their game ideas around financial literacy and personal finances. After weeks of judging and deliberation, 75 submissions were narrowed to three finalists by a panel of expert judges with background in game design or expertise in financial literacy.

The selected finalists are:

SaveZing
Submitted by Eric Gordon
SaveZing is a mobile game where players compete to save real-world money by strategically sending playful push-notifications called Zings. The game uses the power of direct competition and in-game rewards such as profile upgrades and level-ups to motivate players to save.

Life_Dash
Submitted by Jessica Fiorini
Life_Dash is a mixture of a platform runner, puzzler and social experience that educates and entertains as players literally dodge financial obstacles while quickly making important life choices. Life_Dash further contextualizes financial decision impacts through the usage of data visualization.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow
Submitted by Scott Garner
Jump from point to point in your character’s life to see how financial decisions have a tangible impact at different ages. Sound choices lead to a more prosperous and comfortable life as the years go by. The two-dimensional game involves creating art assets and writing dialog.

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New programming added to Games and Media Summit! Our first charity game-a-thon!

Play For Change banner
 
Playing for Change, a charity game-a-thon co-hosted by 3BlackDot and benefitting GameChanger Charity, will stream live from our Games and Media Summit at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18.

With massively popular Twitch and YouTube Gaming stars Tom Syndicate and CaptainSparklez on site, this livestreamed charity event has the potential to reach millions of fans globally and raise funds for GameChanger Charity, which aims to improve the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses through video games.

Tom Syndicate, CaptainSparklez, and 20 fellow streamers playing along online will compete in Minecraft Ultra Hardcore (UHC) mode, where online viewers can donate to send in-game items to their favorite players and influence the competition.

How can you get involved? If you can’t join us in person at the Games and Media Summit, you can support the charity game-a-thon events on www.playingforchange2016.org and help us spread the word!

Playing for Change schedule

  • Special Events (April 6 to 18): Donate early to receive unlimited access to a customized, private Minecraft server, where you can play mini-games, meet up with celebrity Minecrafters, build with friends, and win prizes. We’ll host daily special events from April 6 to 18. Hope to see you there!
  • Game-a-thon Pre-Show (April 18, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST): Our two let’s play superstars Tom Syndicate and CaptainSparklez play a variety of titles from the Games for Change community.
  • Charity Game-a-thon (April 18, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST): Tom Syndicate‘s and CaptainSparklez‘s teams face off against other let’s players in Minecraft UHC, a popular Minecraft mod where the last character standing wins. Watch them on their Twitch feeds or on YouTube Gaming. Donate to send items to your favorite players and help lead them to victory!

Thanks to Razer for providing the PCs and peripherals that will make the charity livestream possible!
 

Games and Media Summit sponsors and partners


 

And don’t forget to get your Games and Media Summit passes!

Only one week left for regular registration! Regular registration for the Games and Media Summit ends on April 7, when ticket prices will increase $50. Pick up your pass today and save!

 

Register
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G4C Student Challenge now open for submissions!

G4C Student Challenge banner

We’ve opened the submission portal for middle and high school students participating in the Games for Change Student Challenge. Games must be submitted by April 30.

If you know a middle or high student in New York City who likes to code, please help spread the word! There’s still time to prototype a game for the chance to win prizes, such as paid internships, design classes, and gaming gear.

The G4C Student Challenge is open to all middle and high school students enrolled in NYC public schools. Games must be playable on a web browser, and address one of the five Challenge themes: Animal Welfare, Smart Cities, Civic Journalism, Literacy or Youth Justice.

For more information on eligibility and submission guidelines, visit the Student Challenge website.

The G4C Student Challenge is expanding!
We’re planning to bring the Challenge to additional U.S. cities in the 2016-17 school year. If your organization is interested in getting involved or supporting this program, please email Project Director Sara Cornish.

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