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The Game Awards honors 5 games for change
“‘Games for Change.’ WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, The Game Awards?”
This tweet (and many to follow) is how we learned that The Game Awards, the new games industry awards show, would include games for change not just among their nominated games but as a standalone category.
The Game Awards, backed by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, is produced and hosted by Geoff Keighley, who formerly worked on the Spike Video Game Awards, which ended after a 10-year run. It was exciting to see the recognition of games for change on such a large stage, which drew nearly 2 million online viewers in its inaugural year.
Congratulations to Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War, winner of the Games for Change category and the Best Narrative category, too. The other nominees in the Games for Change category were:
There’s still some public confusion around what “games for change” are. Oh, if we had a nickel for every time someone wondered if games for change references games that are inexpensive. So even with all the excitement, we have a ways to go toward widespread recognition of what games for change stand for and why and how they are important.
Throughout the three-hour awards show in Las Vegas, it seemed like there were more games premiering or showing new trailers than nominees. Many of these were more of the usual, but a handful of interesting titles debuted: Tacoma from Gone Home developer Fullbright, Hazelight from the makers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and Three One Zero’s Adrift. In the meantime, watch for our own Games for Change Awards nominees, which will be announced in March 2015.
Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
We brought three social impact games to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s first Indie Arcade in Washington D.C.! The event was led by the museum, American University (who kindly invited us in the first place), and MAGFest, in partnership with the IGDA chapters in D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia.
At least 4,000 people came out and played, and our booth was packed with players trying out:
We’ve really enjoyed showing games publicly around the country so far — at the Tribeca Family Fair in New York, at Chicago City of Learning, and at USAID’s Frontiers in D.C. — and hope to host more public arcades like these in the future. Stay tuned to see where we’ll be bringing games next!
4 tips for getting your game covered by the press
Four journalists from top video game publications — Polygon founding editor Brian Crecente, Kotaku reporter Evan Narcisse, Mashable reporter Chelsea Stark, and Kill Screen co-founder Jamin Warren — convened to talk about best practices for game promotion at a panel, which we co-hosted with Playcrafting NYC earlier this month.
The biggest changes to games and games journalism in the past two years have been widespread recognition of games in mainstream media and games’ growing diversity. And as more people try to understand games, creators who are doing different and innovative things will have more opportunities to express themselves to a wider audience. Panelists agreed that now is a better time than ever for games with unique topics or worldviews to shine. This was especially evident in the titles that panelists cited repeatedly throughout the panel as interesting approaches: This War of Mine, Never Alone, Gone Home, and Papers, Please.
1. “Figure out what your story is and what you want the player to get out of it.”
– Evan Narcisse, Kotaku
Why are you making this game? How is it different from what we’ve played before? Will the game surprise players and challenge their assumptions or thinking? Does it connect to topics outside of gaming, and how does it reflect these topics? Answering these questions concisely can pique press attention.
2. “Just reach out to journalists. It’s really easy to make that first step.”
– Brian Crecente, Polygon
Don’t be afraid to send that first introduction email! Journalists *want* to hear from developers. Most journalists’ contact information is easily findable or listed on their publication’s website. You might not get a response right away but send gentle follow-up reminders, understanding their inboxes are likely just as overloaded as yours.
3. “Be human when approaching journalists. Ask advice. You’re people, we’re people, let’s act like it.”
– Chelsea Stark, Mashable
No one likes to receive a botched mail merge message that starts with “Hi
4. “Have a press kit and most importantly, have a good origin story.”
– Jamin Warren, Kill Screen
Flappy Bird skyrocketed to fame because it had a great origin story: One unknown designer created a small, simple game that inadvertently went viral in hours, ultimately receiving 50 million downloads. Shortly after, the designer removed the game from the stores, citing unwanted attention. Don’t just talk about your game; share your journey in creating it and why it is interesting. Human stories like these are often attention-grabbing. But don’t forget to give press the basic bullet points about your game. Vlambeer’s free presskit() is a great way to do this!
How can you successfully pitch your game to the press? Get some tips and takeaways at this panel on Tuesday evening, December 2, at Microsoft’s offices in New York City. Join us for a thoughtful conversation on the state of game journalism and how to capture press attention with four of the top journalists in the industry. RSVP here!
We’re now accepting submissions to the 2015 Games for Change Festival (April 21-23 & 25). A limited number of games, talks, and pitches will be selected and receive complimentary Festival passes. Make your submissions at the above link and let us know if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ Update: The deadline for awards has now passed and the links are no longer active. Thank you to all who submitted! ]
As promised, here’s everything you need to submit your work and ideas to the 2015 Games for Change Festival! A limited number of games, talks, and pitches will be selected and receive complimentary Festival passes. Deadlines for all categories are December 15, 11:59 p.m. EST.
Diversity and Inclusion
We’re looking for speakers, games, and pitches to be a part of the 2015 Games for Change Festival! A limited number of talks and games will be selected and receive complimentary passes to the Festival. There is no fee for submitting.
We will follow up with a reminder and information on how to submit next week. Deadlines for all categories will be December 15, 11:59 p.m. EST.
Learn about the different categories below. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Put it in your calendar: Once again, the Games for Change (G4C) Festival, the largest gaming event in New York City, joins the Tribeca Film Festival’s Innovation Week. It will feature a three-day professional conference (April 21-23) and a daylong public arcade on April 25 at the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair, sharing games for social impact with up to 300,000 people on the streets of Manhattan.
From April 21 to 23, we’ll have:
And this year, we’ll be adding:
We’ll continue to send more info as the 2015 Festival takes shape. Keep an eye out for our call for talks and games in the following months! And in the meantime, check out the 2014 Festival’s highlights:
Gigantic Mechanic’s Sesame Street Box Heads at the 2014 G4C Public Arcade at the Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair.
[ The contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! The Games Forum will announce a winner soon. ]
The Games Forum is accepting entries for its giveaway, where one winner will receive an all-access pass and $500 travel credit to IndieCade, an international festival of independent games in Culver City, California, from October 9 to 12.
IndieCade supports independent game development through international events showcasing the future of independent games. It cultivates innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant. The annual IndieCade festival is the largest of its kind and is a great opportunity for game developers to bring their work to the international stage.
The Games Forum is a New York City-based company that empowers and grows local game development communities through education, networking and collaboration. This is accomplished through workshops, classes, and events for game developers and those aspiring to make games. Best known for its demo nights and playtest nights that draw hundreds from inside and outside the development community, The Games Forum hosts events in New York City and Boston.
Have a great game about facilitating peace or an idea for one? Submit it to PEACEapp, a competition that aims to showcase the work of developers who examine peace and promote games as venues for cultural dialogue and conflict management. Send your entry here by the October 15 deadline.
Sponsored by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the United Nations Development Programme, and Build Up, the competition will award the winning entries with $15,000 in cash prizes, an invitation to present their game at the Build Peace Conference in Cyprus, and exclusive mentoring and advising from Games for Change. The competition will consider entries at all stages of development, from prototypes to fully developed, with awards going to five games or apps—three completed works and two prototypes.
|3 Completed Game Winners||2 Prototype Game Winners|
An international jury, which includes representatives from Games for Peace, the Institute for Economics and Peace, Fields of View, Games for Change, and more, will review submitted games and apps according to three values:
Join us for a Summer of Learning
Once players finish the arcade games, they can then unplug and take the experience off-screen by completing real-world activities and earn digital badges as proof of their achievements. For example, after tackling poverty in SPENT, they can go the extra mile and do something to help the homeless in their own community. Or after deciding innocence or guilt in We the Jury’s mock trials, they can research the real deal by interviewing the real-life jury pool — family or friends.
Cities of Learning evolved from the Chicago Summer of Learning program, launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year to encourage youth to stay on track academically and gain job skills over the summer. Building on last year’s success — 100,000 youth participated in activities hosted by more than 100 organizations — the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Open Badges, and Digital Youth Network are expanding Cities of Learning from Chicago to Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
The G4C digital arcade will be available in all of these cities, and at the end of the summer, participants’ games and projects from around the country will be displayed at the Chicago Summer Showcase on August 14, where we’ll also have the arcade games available to play. Check out select games below!
Save your city from pollution — on screen and off! Make a dent in pollution in your own world with simple steps to trim your garbage footprint. How low can you go?
G4C Award Winner: Game of the Year 2013
FableVision Studios, Learning Games Network
Conquer tough choices as the captain of a far-off planet and then tackle tough choices right here on planet Earth.
G4C Award Winner: Most Significant Impact 2012
McKinney, Urban Ministries of Durham
Play SPENT, a game that faces down poverty, and take real-world action to help someone in need.
Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey
G4C Award Winner: Most Significant Impact 2014
THIRTEEN/WNET, Electric Funstuff
Make history and time travel back to 1866! Then make your own history on Google Map Maker.
We the Jury
iCivics, Filament Games
Decide guilt or innocence as a juror. Then research the real deal, asking others for their jury duty stories.
Play SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! and Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy to build problem-solving and reasoning skills while earning a badge for each game!
From running your own crazy plant shop to controlling the cells that keep your body healthy, these seven games are as entertaining as they are educational. Earn a badge for each one you play.
Make a game in Gamestar Mechanic!
Think of a topic, learn about game making, and make your own game for change. One fabulous game will be selected to be showcased at the Games for Change Arcade at Chicago Summer Showcase. It could be yours!
Work to bring our Half the Sky Movement (HTSM) Facebook and mobile games to audiences in India and Kenya is now well underway as part of the HTSM Media and Technology Engagement Initiative, supported by USAID and led by Show of Force. We’ve also begun to adapt some of the Facebook game content to Android as standalone apps.
The initiative includes NGO partners working in India and Kenya, HTSM documentary producers, the Annenberg Center for Global Communication Studies (monitoring and evaluation), and Ogilvy (marketing and PR). Together, we are adapting all media from the project — the TV series, the Facebook game, the three mobile games, short educational videos, social media strategy, and more — to new local audiences in India and Kenya.
G4C and Show of Force just wrapped up hands-on training with NGO partners, Save the Children in India (pictured above), and Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) in Kenya, to integrate the games into their existing community programs.
The three feature phone games, playable on Nokia C2-01, Nokia 2730, and compatible phones, cover prenatal care (9 Minutes), deworming awareness (Worm Attack!), and the value of girls in their family (Family Choices). The NGOs will lead community discussion groups, where participants play the games and then role-play activities to explore their themes and messages. These games will also point toward other media and services via SMS messaging and links.
Additionally, YWLI will play and explore narratives in the HTSM Facebook game as a centerpiece on their moderated online forum. They will prompt participants to consider aspects of the game and their own lives through open-ended discussions.
Our initial plan was to translate Half the Sky Movement: The Game on Facebook for Indian and Kenyan players. However, earlier visits with our NGO partners revealed that few of their community members would have access to Facebook, and those who do have access do not use Facebook in local languages. Almost everyone reads it in English.
So we decided to create instead a series of offline apps for those who would not have regular Internet access. We asked our friends at Frima Studio, the makers of the Facebook game, to adapt the same stories and characters into an offline choose-your-own-adventure version for Android phones, which are prevalent in cities in India and Kenya. The Android games will be available this fall on the Google Play store.
In India, our local game partner ZMQ will lead on the distribution of the games through existing health care and school programs that are supported by the Indian government and already have the needed technology.
Frontline health care workers, who travel to communities with limited or no access to institutionalized health care, will carry the games on their mobile phones, which are provided to them by the Indian government. Patients can play the games while they wait to see the doctor or along with the health care workers. The health care providers can also transfer the games from their phones to patients’ phones over Bluetooth.
In schools, teachers will receive training on playing the mobile games with students in the classroom. Teachers will also host classroom contests with the mobile games, as students compete for the highest score in 9 Minutes or Worm Attack!.
In Kenya, Leti Arts, our local game partner, plans to spread the word about the games through another medium entirely — comics. They learned in past projects that audiences are reluctant to download or try digital games that they’re not familiar with from app stores, even if they’re free, because they don’t know what they’re getting. However, if they’re familiar with the content, they’ll go to great lengths to get it. For example, an elderly woman will learn to use SMS to download music to her phone because she loves the song, and knows what to expect.
Leti Arts plans to introduce the games’ narrative and characters through comics, a more traditional medium that’s much more familiar and accessible. Mobile ambassadors from their Mobiv-8 Youth Network will distribute the printed comics, which will point readers who want to learn more to the Android games.
In this next phase of the HTSM transmedia project, for the first time, we’re promoting and distributing the games at local and national levels, none of which would be possible without our NGO and publishing partners.
(Image by Tara Jacoby, via Kotaku)
Countless games have thrown players into heated warzones, whether as a soldier holding a gun ready to fire or an almighty commander who oversees the entire battlefield, moving units around.
What’s less examined in games is what’s happening off the battlefield and the consequences of violence. Recently, however, we see more developers who are examining war’s impact on civilians. We’ve made a list of games that we’re looking forward to and a list of thought-provoking titles to play right now.
|To Play Right Now:||To Watch For:|
News and previews from Games for Change Festival alum:
The developers of biofeedback-enhanced horror game Nevermind have partnered with Intel. The winners of our 2014 Pitch Event, Nevermind‘s team will integrate Intel’s motion- and emotion-sensing RealSense 3D camera, allowing players to experience the game without additional hardware.
First announced at the 2013 Festival, Never Alone has released a new video about its development process and seen glowing reactions from the press as it approaches its fall release this year.
Games for Change is seeking a full-time production intern to assist with a range of game development projects.
We’re Looking for Someone Who’s…:
How to Apply:
Games for Change invites any interested interns to send us your resume along with the following information to contact [at] gamesforchange [dot] org: