Expect more of a TED vibe this year, as we invite top researchers to share how games and game thinking can shape everything from economics to neuroscience. One such talk will come from behavioral economist and irrationality expert Dan Ariely (pictured above in his famed Lego experiment on workplace happiness), who will show his findings on play and motivation in tackling long-term tasks that we often put off. (A savings account? What’s that?)
But we’ve told you about our keynotes before. Our other themes this year are:
The State of the Industry returns, with the second half focusing on the State of the Indie. In Designing for Impact, participants from Zynga.org, PlayMob, and GlassLab examine commercial models for integrating impact. (Keep your eyes peeled for a special announcement from GlassLab at the Festival, too!) Illustrating the impact of a game that knows no bounds, the United Nations summarizes results from youth-led public works in Kenya, Sweden, and Haiti through its partnership with Minecraft developer Mojang in Block by Block – Using Minecraft In Urban Planning Projects.
Paolo Pedercini of Molleindustria recounts 10 years of Making Games in a F****d Up World. And indeed, the world is not always a friendly place for impact game makers: Benjamin Poynter chronicles the birth, quick censorship-induced death, and afterlife of indie game In A Permanent Save State. It’s not all doom and gloom here though! Mary Flanagan of Tilt Factor will highlight the design features of games that are proven to change hearts and minds in Games for Change 2.0. We’ll also hear about grace in games from Josh Larson, who’s currently working on That Dragon, Cancer.
Learning and Research
We’ve played many amazing transformational games… but how do we know they’re working? Yale development economics professor Dean Karlan illustrates how takeaways from interventions in microfinance, health, and charitable giving could also help measure and assess impact games. For the first time, Games for Change launches a public discourse that aims to spell out big-picture frameworks for change games at Impact from Games? Pick the Right Field First! Our friends at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center yet again bring together powerful panels on games and learning in both Building Games That Schools Need and Remaking Learning. (Expect more big news from the Cooney Center sometime next week!)
Gender and Inclusivity
The lady coders at the Code Liberation Foundation kick off a series on gender and games with their Changing the Ratio workshop on encouraging female participation in game development. Gamers 2.0: Girls and Gaming Culture takes a deeper look into young girls’ own wants and perceptions of the games they play, followed by Mary Flanagan, Jennifer Jenson, and Heidi Boisvert providing new knowledge and promising practices in challenging gender-based violence in games. Finally, Constance Steinkuehler, Jane McGonigal, and Idit Harel Caperton take the stage to host a conversation on games and gender. Nearly half of Festival speakers this year are women, and we’re thrilled to have them speaking on such important issues at the Festival (and hope someday such representation will be the norm!).
Networking and Games
The Festival starts on Tuesday, April 22, with two hours of speed networking, which will make sure you have plenty of new friends before our opening night party and to play Come Out & Play outdoor games with the next day. Or you could bond with fellow attendees over game-making at one of our morning workshops. These will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so watch for sign-ups soon!
But Wait… There’s More!
One Month Left to Register
Get your tickets before prices go up!