VR for Change Summit: Initial speaker and demo lineup

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Discover how virtual technologies are advancing critical real‑world causes in a day of talks, workshops, and demos

The VR for Change Summit, part of the Games for Change Festival, aims to expand our understanding of what is possible with virtual reality technology to create positive social change. Meet the myriad communities and organizations who are exploring the cutting edge of VR, with projects for nonprofits, journalism, art, education, health, empathy, and inclusivity.

This is only a small sample of our many speakers, presentations, and demos at the VR for Change Summit. Keep an eye on the Summit website here for upcoming announcements!

Keynotes include:

  • Nonny de la Peña (founder, Emblematic Group) is one of the most influential pioneers in developing virtual reality as a means of modern expression. She is a leader in creating immersive virtual, mixed, and augmented reality.
  • Megan Smith (former U.S. chief technology officer) was the third chief technology officer to the United States and assistant to the president, serving under President Barack Obama. She was previously a vice president at Google, where she led new business developments for nine years.
  • Dr. Adam Gazzaley (co-founder and chief science advisor of Akili Interactive Labs) shares his vision of how emerging VR technology can be used to achieve meaningful and sustainable cognitive enhancement, with the ultimate aim of improving our quality of life.
  • Dawn Laguens (executive vice president and chief brand and experience officer, Planned Parenthood Federation) illustrates Planned Parenthood’s use of virtual reality and innovative apps impacting the way people access reproductive health care and empathy.
  • Gabo Arora (founder and president, Lightshed) gives a historical overview of visual media and its uses for empathy and representing others’ pain.

Experience these VR projects and more

Across the Line (Planned Parenthood, Emblematic Group) is an immersive virtual reality experience that combines 360° video and computer generated imaging to put viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion. 
Testimony (Zohar Kfir) is an interactive documentary for virtual reality that shares the stories of five survivors of sexual assault and their journey to healing. It is also an advocacy platform to allow the public to bear witness to those who have been silenced.
SuperChem VR (Schell Games) is a VR chemistry lab that allows students to interact safely in a lab without investing in tangible lab equipment. It was created with support by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
Perfect Eggplants Don’t Exi- (Mikei Huang) is about failing to attain the ideal body image. In this superficial world of eggplants, players experience the doubling effect of sexual objectification in the gay culture by modifying their bodies to meet arbitrary expectations.
Screenshot from That Dragon, Cancer.

VR for empathy


  • Ryan and Amy Green (Numinous Games) will share insights from their explorations in VR, including bringing their award-winning game That Dragon, Cancer into VR and their ideas about how the medium can move and change hearts and minds.
  • Aldis Sipolins (head of virtual reality and game design, IBM) will discuss his work on studying immersive cognition in VR, with some live demos.
  • Forging the CyberFeminist Multireality: Discussions on a future for VR that is both empowering and inclusive for women will be had by Alice Lloyd George (associate, RRE Ventures), Zohar Kfir (creator, Testimony), Sophia Dominguez (CEO and co-founder, SVRF), and Clorama Dorvilias (UX research and design fellow, Code for America). The panel will be moderated by Malia Probst (VR Scout).
  • Jaehee Cho (creative director, Stitchbridge) and Ralph Vituccio (associate teaching professor, Carnegie Mellon University) will share lessons learned developing and playtesting Injustice, an interactive VR experience around racially motivated police brutality.

Meet the curator

Erik Martin previously served as a policy advisor at the White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama administration. He helped develop numerous national education innovation policies and initiatives, co-wrote the first memo to the president on VR technologies and hosted events like the White House Game Jam and an eSports competition to encourage sign-ups on HealthCare.gov. His career started by playing World of Warcraft with the Dragonmaw Vanguard.  

Festival deadlines coming up soon:

  • VR Brain Jam (June 22): Are you a VR game creator? Apply by June 22 to join our VR Brain Jam. Participants will receive free passes to the Festival and VR for Change Summit and may have a chance to present their prototypes at the Summit.
  • Pitch Event (June 30): Submissions to our on-stage Pitch Event close on June 30. Making a game for civic engagement or in response to current political events? We want to hear from you!
  • Book your booth in the G4C Marketplace (July 1): Our b2b expo at the Festival invites companies and game studios to demo their games, technologies, and platforms to potential partners and clients.

Volunteer at the Festival
In exchange for volunteering, we invite you to attend part of the Festival, where you will hear from experts, meet others in our community, and experience new games. Sign up to volunteer here.

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