The annual Games for Change (G4C) Awards celebrates the year’s best games for social impact and learning. All awards are competitive, and winners will be awarded in each of the following categories: Most Innovative, Best Gameplay, Best Learning Game, Most Significant Impact, and Game of the Year.
– Games that demonstrate creativity and aspire to bring new ideas through unique game design, technology and/or audiences.
– Games that embrace experimentation to break conventions of form or concept in a manner that may pave new ways for the sector.
– Games with highly compelling and engaging gameplay.
– Game mechanics align with and reinforce impact goals.
– Polished in design, functionality, and thematic execution.
BEST LEARNING GAME:
– Games that offer meaningful engagement around intended learning objectives with measurable outcomes.
– Examples of types of learning include cognitive skills (academic subjects, memory), social/emotional skills (empathy, bullying), physical health (movement, nutrition), and creative well-being.
MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT:
– Games that target a specific social issue with proven actions/outcomes (i.e. awareness, civic learning, community building, or behavior change).
GAME OF THE YEAR:
– The grand prize! An exemplary game that achieves all three dimensions: Impact, Innovation, and Gameplay.
G4C + Polygon People’s Choice Award:
- -Game of the Year as selected by a popular vote of the G4C community!
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Release Date: August 31, 2017
Developer: Deck Nine Games
In this choice-based narrative prequel, players see the world through the mind of Chloe Price, a 16 year-old rebel whose self-destructive lifestyle threatens her relationships and well-being. At the helm of this angsty and emotionally powerful protagonist, the player must navigate Chloe’s life decisions when an unexpected friendship throws everything off-kilter.
Release Date: January 19, 2017
Developer: New Reality Company
In Tree, users experience the cycle of life through the lens of the natural world. Users enter the tree’s body and perspective, beginning the installation as a virtual seed and growing to the highest point in the forest before being slashed and burned by industrial loggers. With your arms as branches and body as a trunk, you literally embody the tree’s transformation and users are further immersed into the experience through sensory elements including a scent track, wind, heat and haptic vibrations to simulate growth.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Release Date: April 24, 2017
Developer: Giant Sparrow
Set in the home of “America’s most unfortunate family,” this immersive and unsettling first-person narrative drama delves into hereditary issues. As Edith, players explore the colossal Finch family estate on a quest to discover why she’s the last one alive in her family.
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Developer: Charles University, Czech Academy of Sciences
Using cinematic-style interviews with survivors, interactive comics and historical footage, this dialogue-based game places players in the center of Nazi occupation during World War II. Players speak to eyewitnesses, live their memories and uncover compelling details of one family’s story.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Developer: Ninja Theory
Made in collaboration with neuroscientists and personal accounts of psychosis, this action-adventure hybrid pulls the player deep into the mind of Senua, a broken Celtic warrior fighting for the soul of her dead lover. As Senua, the player wrestles with mental illness and the rationalization of the incomprehensible to progress.
Most Significant Impact, Game of the Year
Walden, a Game
Release Date: October 12, 2017
Developer: USC Game Innovation Lab
Walden, A Game is a first person simulation of the life of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. The game begins in the summer of 1845 when Thoreau moved to the Pond and built his cabin there.
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Developer: Lishan AZ
Tracking Ida is an educational alternate reality game (ARG) inspired by the pioneering investigative journalism of Ida B. Wells in the 1890s. Players uncover Ida B. Wells’ crusade against lynching and use her strategies to investigate police and vigilante killings today. Along the way, they solve puzzles, decode messages through a phonograph, role-play as investigative journalists, interview members of their community, and harness social media to spread awareness.
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Developer: David OReilly
Everything is an open ended interactive experience and reality simulation game. There is no right or wrong way to play, and each person’s game will be different. Playing Everything involves traveling through the Universe and seeing it from different points of view, it has elements of role playing games, sandbox & simulation. The systems connecting the game are designed to create moments of peace, beauty, sadness and joy – and allow the player to do whatever they want. Everything requires no player input – it will play automatically if left unattended.
BEST LEARNING GAME
DRAGONBOX BIG NUMBERS
Release Date: November 6, 2016
Learn big numbers, long addition and subtraction in DragonBox’s newest game! Players do 4000 operations to gather, trade and to unlock new worlds.
G4C + MASHABLE PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD
AT PLAY IN THE COSMOS
Developer: W. W. Norton, Gear Learning, Learning Games Network
At Play in the Cosmos puts players in the pilot’s seat, where they journey through space and time in a quest to solve mission challenges. The game helps students build an intuitive understanding of the scale of the universe, the tools astronomers use, and the process of science.
Most Significant Impact, Game of the Year, Mashable + G4C People's Choice Award
Life is Strange
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Life Is Strange is a five part episodic game 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. You are Max, a photography senior who saves her old friend Chloe by discovering she can rewind time. The pair soon find themselves exposed to the darker side of Arcadia Bay as they uncover the disturbing truth behind the sudden disappearance of a fellow student.
Release Date: March 10, 2016
Block’hood is a neighborhood-building simulator that celebrates the diversity and experimentation of cities and the unique ecosystems within them. Budding city planners will have access to 90+ building blocks to arrange and combine and to create unique neighborhoods and discover the implications of their designs.
That Dragon, Cancer
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Developer: Numinous Games
That Dragon, Cancer is an immersive, narrative videogame that retells Joel Green’s 4-year fight against cancer through about two hours of poetic, imaginative gameplay that explores themes of faith, hope and love.
Best Learning Game
Release Date: November 3, 2015
DragonBox Numbers is a new math game that helps develop number sense in kids ages 4-to-8 years old. Rather than focus on reputation and memorization, the game helps kids gain an intuitive understanding of numbers – what they are, how they work, and what you can do with them.
Most Significant Impact, Game of the Year
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Developer: E-Line Media
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is a atmospheric puzzle platformer that explores the cultural folklore of the Iñupiat Native Alaskan people. It is the first game developed in collaboration with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, an Alaskan Native people and nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game.
This War of Mine
Release Date: November 14, 2014
Developer: 11 bit studios
In This War Of Mine you do not play as an elite soldier, but rather a group of civilians trying to survive in a besieged city, struggling with a lack of food and medicine and facing constant danger from hostile scavengers and snipers. The game provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle.
Release Date: May 21, 2014
Developer: Game Oven
Bounden is a dancing game for two players, with choreography by the Dutch National Ballet. Holding either end of a device, you tilt the device around a virtual sphere following a path of rings. You swing your arms and twist your body, and before you know it, you are already dancing.
Game of the Year
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Developer: The Fullbright Company
After a year-long trip to Europe, Kaitlin Greenbriar returns to an empty home. “Don’t go digging around trying to find out where I am,” reads a note on the front door, signed by her younger sister Sam and punctuated by lightning from the storm outside. The player, as Kaitlin, must then explore the house, figuring out why her family has disappeared. They have left behind a trove of objects and artifacts — in darkened rooms and behind locked doors — for the player to explore, and it is through this environment that the story reveals itself.
Most Innovative, Best Gameplay
Release Date: August 8, 2013
Developer: Lucas Pope
Papers, Please is a single-player “Dystopian Document Thriller” in which the player steps into the role of an immigration inspector in the fictional country of Arstotzka in the year 1982. As the player stands on the threshold between two different countries, a unique perspective of immigration and border security springs out of the mundane task of inspecting papers. On a second layer, the player must simultaneously provide for his/her family using the salary earned from the job, which pays based on how many people have been processed through in a day. Balancing border security with the needs of the family is uniquely human, creating a juxtaposition that is new and interesting.
Most Significant Impact
Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey
Release Date: October 16, 2013
The goal of Mission US is to reignite passion and curiosity in American history among modern-day teenagers by offering an interactive educational platform that’s both accessible and engaging. Mission US currently offers four missions to embark upon, challenging them to think critically every step of the way in the shoes of a fellow historical peer.
Game of the Year
Release Date: September 5, 2012
Developer: FableVision Studios, Learning Games Network
Quandary promotes ethical thinking and reasoning through a three-episode story that follows the development of a futuristic space colony on a new planet. As the captain of the colony, players have the final say in the multifaceted problems that residents bring up. Once presented with an issue, they must first sort facts from opinion and evaluate stakeholder arguments on the available solutions.
Developer: Aaron Rasmussen and Michael T. Astolfi
BlindSide is a single-player, audio-horror adventure game for iOS, PC, and Mac with no visual display. The player plays as Case, a man whom – along with the rest of the city – has gone inexplicably blind. Case and his girlfriend, Dawn, find themselves struggling not only to navigate without sight, but also to avoid the people-eating monsters that have appeared throughout the city. The player turns Case by rotating in real-life when playing on iOS, or by using the keyboard when playing on a computer, and moves forward and backward using buttons. This navigates Case through a modeled 3d space that the player can only hear. Using stereo headphones, the player can locate himself/herself within the space. The game takes full advantage of audio phenomenon like the Doppler Effect as part of its gameplay, in one instance requiring the player to avoid dangers based on the pitch of the sound as they pass.
Reach for the Sun
Developer: Filament Games
Reach for the Sun is a single-player resource management game in which you control a plant, growing it across a season in the attempt to make as many seeds as possible before winter comes. Your three main resources – water, nutrients, and starch – are used to expand your plant from a little seed into an extensive network of roots, leaves, and flowers. Roots and leaves are used to generate more resources, and flowers are used to produce seeds, which are also used as a currency outside of levels to unlock new types of plants, as well as improvements for the garden such as fertilizer, a watering can, and a praying mantis to fend off pests.
Most Significant Impact
Release Date: May 13, 2013
Developer: Cuteacute Media OG
“Legal, Illegal, Whatever.” With these words, you begin your data collection empire. Data Dealer is a single-player (soon to be multi-player) systems management game in which you use your network of underground contacts and online companies to collect as many people’s personal information as you can, cultivating a valuable database that can be sold to other organizations. You can pay off disgruntled nurses for medical information and hackers for passwords and credit card numbers, or you can develop your own companies – such as dating sites and loyalty card programs – to collect sexual orientations or buying habits for your database. With the money you earn from selling this data, you can add features to your companies to access new types of information, or hire lawyers and psychologists to decrease your risk and increase the number of profiles you have access to.
Game of the Year, Most Innovative
Developer: Coco & Co
WAY was created by a multidisciplinary independent game design team named Coco & Co including Chris Bell from thatgamecompany (Flower, Flow). In WAY, players are set it a 2D platforming game environment. At first, players navigate the game area alone, trying to make sense of what the game experience is meant to be. Moments later, the game reveals that your journey is happening simultaneously with another, unnamed, random player. Both players can see the movements of the other player but cannot interact directly.
This is not your typical war simulator. You’re not a gritty soldier fighting on the ground, instead, you’re the operator of a remote, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). When the war is fought on screen, where is the real damage experienced?
Most Significant Impact
Developer: McKinney, Urban Ministries of Durham
Work hard. Do the right thing. Homelessness is something that will never happen to me. Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing experience to land you on the streets: a job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, natural disaster, or serious illness. Next thing you know, a chain of events sends things spiraling out of control…How would you cope? Where would you go? What would you do? Figure something out, right?