Games for Change Festival pass prices go up next week

On Monday, June 13, Games for Change Festival pass prices go up for late registration. Save $50 by picking up your pass today!

Check out the full Festival schedule and start customizing your agenda with our new app, Sched. Stay tuned for an announcement on our networking events, which include one-on-one consultations and speed networking with industry experts.

Buy Pass

Are you a student or indie game developer? We still have special deals just for you — register here!

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Vote for your favorite game in the Mashable + G4C People’s Choice Award

For the second year in a row, Mashable has partnered with Games for Change to present The Mashable + Games for Change People’s Choice Award, as voted on by you.

The Games for Change Awards has four categories voted on by teams of judges: Best Gameplay, Most Significant Impact, Most Innovative and Best Learning Game. It also contains a People’s Choice category for fans to cast their vote, and Mashable is partnering with G4C to host the voting.

All nine games, no matter which award they were nominated for, are up for the People’s Choice Award. Vote for your favorite here!

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Climate Challenge finalists announced: Winner to be revealed at the G4C Festival

We are proud to announce the four finalists in the Games for Change Climate Challenge, an initiative presented by the PoLAR Partnership, Autodesk, and Games for Change that aims to inspire people through digital games to tackle the problem of climate change at the local, regional, and global level.

A panel of judges selected the finalists to present their prototype live on stage at the Games for Change Festival in New York City on June 24. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize to support further development of their game.

Earlier this year, the Climate Challenge asked game designers, educators, students, and scientists of all experience levels to submit a working prototype of a digital game focusing on scientifically-grounded climate solutions, such as preventing carbon emissions, preparing for impacts, and/or promoting public awareness and understanding. More than 50 submissions were received from around the world, ranging a wide variety of climate topics and design approaches.

Block’hood (Plethora-Project)
Block’hood is a neighborhood simulator with emphasis on ecology and entropy. By simulating the carbon and energy contributions of each part of a city, the game raises awareness and allows players to find solutions for climate change. It is also nominated in the 2016 Games for Change Awards for Best Gameplay.

Eco (Strange Loop Games)
Build a civilization with other players in this virtual world where everything you do affects the ecosystem. Eco is focused on creating the real social systems, policies, and scientific understanding needed to effectively address climate change.

Carbon Runner (Pew Pew Studios)
Carbon Runner is a game about making environmentally conscious decisions. Control the Green Ninja as he has to choose to collect or destroy items, which are good or bad for the environment.
Urban Climate Architect (CliSAP/CEN Outreach, Ute Kreis, CEN Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, Universität Hamburg)
This drag-and-drop city-building game helps players understand how we can get our cities ready to deal with climate change and its consequences. It focuses on which elements of the urban environment are important for the climate and how to reduce the effects of global climate change in cities. Play the prototype here.

The Games for Change Climate Challenge is sponsored by the Autodesk Foundation, Dell, Intel, NVIDIA, and the Columbia Climate Center, with support from the National Science Foundation.

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2016 Games for Change Europe Festival: Immigration, Integration, Self-Esteem Restoration, and the Power of Videogames

G4C16 Euro Banner Final

Across the ocean from the 13th Annual Games for Change Festival in New York City, the 2016 Games for Change Europe (G4CE) Festival, will take place in Paris from June 9 to 10, aiming to inspire inspire the videogame industry to help find solutions to tackle one of the most important issues of the century: immigration.

The G4CE Festival features talks from developers, educators, refugee activists, and more, focusing on areas like the restoration of self-esteem to refugees, educating the public on immigration issues, and integrating migrants into new cultures.

The first day of the G4CE Festival will begin with a morning of talks on the latest achievements in the social impact games field and wrap up with a presentation of prototypes from a student hackathon on immigration. The hackathon, organized by CNAM (ENJMIN – CEDRIC), Paris 8 University, UNESCO ITEN, will take place on June 7 and 8.

On the second and final day of the festival, speakers and attendees will start the day by brainstorming game design ideas that could be implemented in the coming months. Themes for these workshops could touch on the following aspects of immigration: education, psychological issues, self-esteem restoration, and social entrepreneurship. Groups will then present their ideas or projects, and the best ideas or projects will be selected, with the goal of presenting their prototypes or near-finished versions at the 2017 G4CE Festival.

With talks from Colabee Games co-founder Dima Veryovka (The Forest Song), refugee advocate Cheija Abdaleh, Digixart creative director Yoan Fanise (Lost in Harmony), and many more, this year’s G4CE Festival is not one to miss! Want to learn more? See the full schedules of panelists and speakers for June 9 and June 10.

If you can’t make it, follow Games for Change Europe on Twitter and the hashtag #G4CE2016.

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Announcing the 2016 Games for Change Award nominees

Congratulations to the finalists in the 2016 Games for Change Awards! Join us at the Games for Change Festival on June 23 and 24 to play these games and see who wins at our annual G4C Awards ceremony, celebrating the year’s best games for change.

We are excited to share the inaugural nominees in our new category—Best Learning Game. The games from all categories will compete for the top honor, Game of the Year, which is awarded to the nominee that best exemplifies all categories.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their games and to our jury of leaders from the gaming community, social impact sector, media, and tech, who dedicated their time to rigorously evaluating all entries.

Developer: Plethora-Project
Platforms: Windows, Mac
A neighborhood-building sandbox game that presents an ecological take on city planning. Celebrating the diversity of cities, the game invites players into a narrative that builds an understanding of resource dependencies and empathy for the neighborhoods we live in.


Life is Strange
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
A five-part episodic experience that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present, and future. The game handles identity, bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, love, friendship, and everyday dilemmas alongside moments of adventure.


That Dragon, Cancer
Developer: Numinous Games
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Ouya
An immersive, narrative video game that retells Joel Green’s four-year fight against cancer through two hours of poetic, imaginative gameplay that explores themes of faith, hope, and love.



Super Powers Legion
(Legião dos Super Poderes)

Developer: PushStart Studio / Platform: Web
A game designed to change kids’ habits by mixing the real and virtual worlds. Children have to eat healthier and practice physical activities to gain superpowers in-game, evolving their heroes and defeating all enemies.


Life is Strange
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
A five-part episodic experience that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present, and future. The game handles identity, bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, love, friendship, and everyday dilemmas alongside moments of adventure.


Syrian Journey
Developer: BBC / Platform: Web
A digital project that explores the plight of the Syrian refugees. By choosing their own escape route in this newsgame, the audience takes their own personal dramatic and heart-wrenching journey to face dilemmas based on real-life stories.



Life is Strange
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
A five-part episodic experience that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present, and future. The game handles identity, bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, love, friendship, and everyday dilemmas alongside moments of adventure.


Lumino City
Developer: State of Play / Platform: iOS
A game crafted entirely by hand out of paper, card, miniature lights, and motors, resulting in the construction of a 10-foot-high model city. In this setting weaves an enthralling adventure. Lumi’s grandfather has been kidnapped and to find him you must embrace sustainable living practices and navigate the mechanisms that power this world.


That Dragon, Cancer
Developer: Numinous Games
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Ouya
An immersive, narrative video game that retells Joel Green’s four-year fight against cancer through two hours of poetic, imaginative gameplay that explores themes of faith, hope, and love.



DragonBox Numbers
Developer: WeWantToKnow
Platforms: iOS, Android
A game that gives children who are at the outset of their math education the foundation they need in order to succeed: a strong sense of numbers and fluency with addition and counting.


Mission US: “City of Immigrants”
Developers: THIRTEEN/WNET New York Public Media, Electric Funstuff, American Social History Project 
Platform: Web
The fourth in a series of free digital role-playing games made to immerse students in U.S. history. Players assume the role of a Russian Jewish teen who immigrates to New York City in 1907 and joins the growing labor movement.


NOVA’s Evolution Lab
Developer: NOVA / Platform: Web
A puzzle game and interactive tree of life that challenges players to build phylogenetic trees, complete missions based off of the evidence for evolution, and explore the connections between over 70,000 species.




Regular registration ends soon!

Less than two weeks remain to get Games for Change Festival passes at regular registration prices — on June 14, prices increase. Get your now!

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New G4C Festival keynotes: Sid Meier, Chris Weaver of Bethesda Softworks, Magic Leap, and more


Announcing more Festival keynotes!

Sid Meier, co-founder, Firaxis Games
Often regarded as “The Godfather of Computer Gaming,” Sid Meier is a co-founder and director of creative development at Firaxis Games. He has programmed, designed, and produced several popular strategy games, including the beloved Civilization series. Sid will join G4C President Susanna Pollack in conversation.


Christopher Weaver, founder,
Bethesda Softworks

Christopher Weaver founded Bethesda Softworks, a videogame publisher whose library includes the Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Dishonored franchises, and now teaches engineering and computational media at MIT and Wesleyan. He will discuss how games work and why they are such potent tools in areas as disparate as military simulation, childhood education, and medicine.


Graeme Devine, chief game wizard,
Magic Leap

Magic Leap’s Graeme Devine will share the secretive startup’s vision for mixed reality in the classroom and the technology that makes it possible to interact with virtual objects in real life. Step into Magic Leap headquarters in their profile in Wired for a peek at the powerful platform they’re promising.

Erik Huey, SVP of Government Affairs,
Entertainment Software Association

Erik Huey, SVP of government affairs at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), will present the Games for Learning Summit’s opening address, discussing how the ESA supports and provides insights into the growing sector of games in the classroom.


Full Festival schedule now online

The full schedule for the 2016 Games for Change Festival is live! Start bookmarking your favorite sessions here.

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G4C Festival: Our Civics & Social Issues track, curated by Matt Parker 🌍

G4C Festival 2016 Civics & Social Issues track

Announcing the 
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.

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The Entertainment Software Association and G4C present the Games for Learning Summit



The Games for Learning Summit, presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Games for Change, with further support from Microsoft, is open to all Games for Change Festival attendees. The program will include workshops and talks from a cross-section of thought leaders from academia, government, gaming, edtech, and social innovation.
Check out these Summit highlights and meet its curator below!



Full schedule to be announced soon on the Festival website.
Stay tuned for info on our Civics & Social Issues track!



OPENING REMARKS: Entertainment Software Association
Erik Huey, SVP of Government Affairs for the Entertainment Software Association, presents the Summit’s opening address, discussing how the ESA supports and provides insights into the growing sector of games in the classroom.


KEYNOTE: Magic Leap
Magic Leap’s Chief Game Wizard Graeme Devine shares the startup’s vision for mixed reality in the classroom and making virtual objects appear in real life.


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KEYNOTE: Unity Global Education
Megan Stewart, director of Unity Global Education, gives an overview of how games are affecting change across industries and inspiring youth toward careers in game development.


TALK: Minecraft Education
Minecraft Education director Deirdre Quarnstrom shares what’s new in Mojang and Microsoft’s efforts to bring Minecraft to students and teachers around the world, including its new portfolio feature.


PANEL: Virtual reality in the classroom with Google, Valve, and Blippar

Is VR the ultimate in immersive learning? What’s real and what’s hype? Hear how VR is reimagining the classroom experience, helping teachers deliver content and expand the scope of learning with Des Plaines School District 62 CTO Jennie Magiera, Valve VR evangelist and writer Chet Faliszek, Jonathan Rochelle of Google Education, and Blippar’s head of education Colum Elliott-Kelly.


PANEL: Computer Science for All: Putting students in the driving seat
Learn how students in NYC are learning to code and make games both in and outside of school, and what needs to happen next to make computer science a new literacy. Hear from NYC CTO Minerva Tantoco, CSNYC Director Michael Preston, teacher Matthew Farber, and Debbie Marcus, CS4All director at the NYC Department of Education.



PANEL: Women and girls in gaming
How can education support more women and girls to create a more diverse games industry? What obstacles will we need to overcome to do it? Hear from director of the University of Southern California (USC) Games program Tracy Fullerton, Joan Freese of PBS SciGirls, and Girls Make Games founder Laila Shabir.



TALK: Breaking into the education market

Games for Learning blogger Sande Chen discusses strategies for entering the learning games market. Learn about the challenges facing game creators, educators and administrators, and how games can provide transformative experiences in the classroom.



WORKSHOP: AbleGamers’ includification

In this workshop led by AbleGamers President Mark Bartlet, participants will learn about “includification,” the non-intimidating process of making sure your games can be played by more people. The workshop will look at games meant to support innovative learning, but the lessons and ideas are universal.

PANEL: Games for early-childhood learning
Play is a powerful way to engage young learners eager to explore and create. What have we learned about the needs of early learners and creating effective age-appropriate content that supports their growth? Panel includes leaders from The Fred Rogers Company, PBS Kids, CodeSpark, and Toca Boca, moderated by Katrina Stevens of the U.S. Department of Education.

WORKSHOP: Classcraft: Where the student becomes the hero
Learn firsthand how a role-playing game can foster stronger student collaboration and classroom management from the creators of Classcraft. This game making workshop will introduce participants to the core mechanics that make a game engaging in the classroom.


Meet the Games for Learning Summit curator:
Sara Cornish leads G4C’s learning programs including the G4C Student Challenge, a social impact game design challenge. She also manages strategic partnerships and development.




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New chapter in our report on games + impact: Countering four risky assumptions

Our investigation of the big picture continues with our new chapter: Countering Four Risky Assumptions. The free PDF debuted in April at the Games and Media Summit and is published by ETC Press. In our role as field convener, Games for Change is thrilled to better align research with practice.

G4C Blog_RiskyAssumptions

The idea is to reduce friction between games designers and researchers, especially across disciplines. This new chapter, with some fun infographics, builds on research we launched a year ago with funding from the Packard Foundation. More than 5,000 copies of the first report were downloaded in its first year — and we received some great feedback.

Some of the best insights from the community turned into this new chapter. For example, we argue that real progress depends on recognizing that great designers are researchers too, since they must test their games carefully for launch. Deep collaboration requires more respect for the “inner researcher” of our favorite designers.

Partnership is critical for building cohesion in our field. The “discussion collaborators” below were invaluable in hosting discussions on the report before. Now we invite them again to compliment and critique — especially the four assumptions. (If you would like to be a discussion partner, please contact us!)

Not sure where to start? We’d love to hear your responses to any of these questions:

  • Are they as risky as we think?
  • Do you like our proposed solutions?  How can we learn from failure in our field, especially across disciplines and design practices?
  • Would the infographics help you to teach about game impact in a design school?




For the third chapter, we are developing a “typology of impact” to make better sense of our field.  Rather than organize games by content area, we are proposing to group them by how they achieve and claim impact.
See you at the Games for Change Festival later this month for more!

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Games for Change Festival: Introducing our new Neurogaming & Health track


Announcing sessions in the
Neurogaming & Health track

For the first time ever, the Games for Change Festival will feature a Neurogaming & Health track that highlights collaborations between researchers and developers who are producing games with remarkable, measurable outcomes. Check out this track’s speakers and meet its curator, Asi Burak, below!


Coming soon: more info on our Civics & Social Issues track and the Games for Learning Summit!


Sea Hero Quest

Saving the human mind
Within 24 hours of launch, Deutsche Telekom’s mobile game to fight dementia, Sea Hero Quest, reached over 140,000 downloads. Wolfgang Kampbartold, VP at Deutsche Telekom (DT), will share more on the game’s success and explain why a global telecom leader has decided to invest in crowdgaming.


From Fantasy to Empathy: Changing game dialogue for the real world
Kognito writers Jennifer Hepler, who previously wrote the Dragon Age series at Bioware and many other commercial titles, and Seth Bleecker present how game dialogue can encourage us to be more empathetic.


Psychology and game design at Valve
Valve’s senior experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder takes attendees behind the scenes of the maker of Half-Life, Portal, and more. Take an in-depth look at Valve’s game design process, how they measure the impact of their decisions, and how this applies to games aiming to affect the real world.


Hacking neuroscience with OpenBCI
In this surprising live demo with an audience volunteer (will it be you?), the hackers, programmers, and researchers of OpenBCI present a first-hand look into open-source platforms for biosensing and brain-computer interfaces. 

Neurosky Star Wars Force Trainer
Star Wars Force Trainer
NeuroSky CEO Stanley Yang breaks down the history of NeuroSky biosensors and their integration into commercial toys, from their Star Wars Force Trainer and beyond.

syncself 2
Moving mindfully using wearable technology
Speaking about the development of VR and neurogaming, artist Karen Palmer shares her interactive film fusing parkour and gaming, Syncself 2, and reveals the process behind her current project, Riot, an immersive video installation.


Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! and Overwatch
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. Get a look at their new game for wearables, codenamed Overwatch.

Videogames and meditation
Robin Arnott, the award-winning creator of SoundSelf, a 2014 G4C Awards nominee, analyzes meditation as game design and argues how meditation systems can be adapted and even improved by modern videogame technology.  

Snow World
VR and Snow World: Working with burn victims
Ari Hollander, co-founder and CTO of DeepStream VR, highlights VR project Snow World‘s potential to reduce pain for severe burn patients. Clinical trials show dramatic reductions in pain, plus patients report feeling less anxious when they have VR to help them through the painful procedure.


The quest for FDA-approved games
The road to FDA approval is long and expensive but promising studies have encouraged acclaimed neuroscientist Dr. Adam Gazzaley to move his game from the lab into the commercial world. Project: Evo has already shown solid results in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Rewiring the Brain: Anxiety treatment
A new health game, Seeing the Good Side, developed by American University‘s Game Lab in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, seeks to leverage hidden-object puzzles to provide a “gaming regimen” for children with anxiety.



Meet the Neurogaming & Health Curator: Asi Burak
Asi Burak, the chairman of Games for Change, is a veteran of the videogame and technology industries, and an award-winning executive producer and designer. For the past five years, he served as the President of Games for Change (replaced by Susanna Pollack).

From the curator:
“It’s exciting that the Festival features a Neurogaming & Health track for the first time, so it’s all fresh and we’re engaging new communities with games for change. We tried to bring a broad perspective — from top-down efforts funded by government, to successful private ventures, to open-source indie communities and even neurogaming as art.”

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