Thank you to all who attended our 16th annual Games for Change Festival this past month!
It was an incredible week and we are so thankful to everyone who joined us including the amazing speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and of course all the attendees! So many industry icons, developers, creators, professionals, and change agents came together to discuss the power of games and XR to drive social change. With themes surrounding education, health and wellness, civics and social issues, and more – the Games for Change Festival celebrated the impact that games and XR can make in our world.
Wait I missed it… so what happened?
At the XR for Change Summit and the Games for Change Festival we had nearly 200 diverse and inspiring speakers come together for panels and sessions and over 1100 attendees on site. Facebook Gaming livestreamed the Festival to thousands more. All of our talks and sessions will be featured on the G4C YouTube Channel so remember to check them out here!
But for now, here are some of the highlights…
XR for Change Summit
The third annual XR for Change Summit kicked off the Games for Change Festival this year. Our innovative XR speakers shared the many ways immersive media can drive social change. Opening Keynote, Jessica Brillhart talked about how game design perspectives influence XR creatives and filmmakers, Nancy Baker Cahill discussed the subversive potential of XR in art and culture, and Illya Szilak offered an empathetic perspective on how we can use XR to invoke acceptance and understanding. All of our panels and sessions offered valuable insights on XR technology and its possible impact in healthcare, education and global issues.
At the Summit, we also announced plans with AARP Innovation Labs (known as The Hatchery) to create a VR Design Challenge slated to launch in January 2020. The collaboration will aim to inspire more people to think about how VR games can enhance the quality of life as we age and enable people across all ages to experience simple, beautiful and impactful VR. Developers will be invited to submit a digital game that can demonstrate health or wellness benefits for older users for a cash prize and a chance to be published on the AARP Alcove Platform. Interested in learning more – click here – and sign up for more information!
Our largest ever XR Immersive Arcade featured 21 unique XR experiences that were created for social impact across a variety of disciplines. These experiences were from incredible content creators, including Oculus VR for Good, Cloudred, Magic Leap Studios, Emblematic Group, Atlas V, Accenture Interactive, Vrai Pictures, the Anti-Defamation League, P’tites Madeleines Productions, Silvrscreen Productions, Artie, RYOT, The Technicolor Experience Center, and many more!
XR Brain Jam
In the days leading up to the XR for Change Summit, we held our 3rd XR Brain Jam where researchers teamed up with XR developers to create immersive experiences at the intersection of research and technology.
Led by Dave Culyba from Carnegie Mellon’s ETC and Sabrina Culyba, ten amazing teams worked from June 14th to June 16th to explore how we can advance research through immersive experiences. More info can be found on the XR Brain Jam Site.
We highlighted four of these immersive experiences and invited them to present at the XR for Change Summit. ASMvR addresses adolescent anxiety by providing sensory experiences to reduce anxiety symptoms. Good Vibrations allows Parkinson’s patients to obtain the feeling of functionality that they felt before their diagnosis. Mosquitos vs. Humans is a multiplayer virtual reality experience to address the global mosquito bite mortality rate. Lastly, Brain Relay uses virtual reality to teach about neural networks and help users better understand how signals are sent to different parts of the brain.
Over two packed days, our amazing curators programmed sessions that inspired, informed and challenged how we use games to drive impact. Some of the programming highlights include: James Vaughan shared his experience in the development of his commercially successful educational and social impact games, Plague Inc. and Rebel Inc. Stan Pierre Louis and Yannis Mallat discussed the dynamic impact that the video game industry has on business, entertainment, and culture. Eric Zimmerman gave a meaningful keynote about how purposeful game design has the power to be the solution to society’s growing problems. And Leslie Pirritano reflected on deeply personal experiences that ultimately inspired her commitment to diversity.
The G4C Marketplace also showcased twelve innovative companies and universities who are dedicated to games and social change, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), ELUDICA, StreetWize Simulations, MeetMax Games, Project on Nuclear Gaming, Ndemic, the Federal Games Guild, the University of California Santa Cruz, Emmerson College, Brightline, and Aviv Learning Inc.
A big part of what makes the Games for Change Festival special is how it fosters connections. We saw so many new connections and partnerships being formed at our Speed Networking and Meet the Funder sessions. We were also proud to have held the IDGA Mentor Café, which provided an incredible degree of mentorship and knowledge to so many members of our Games for Change community!
Games for Change Awards
The Games for Change Awards celebrates the best social impact games and XR experiences released each year. We had some amazing categories this year, including our recently added Best Student Game and Best XR for Change Experience Awards. Facebook also hosted the G4C People’s Choice Award, and we had the most voters ever to participate!
At the Awards Ceremony, we honored two recipients: Lindsay Grace was given the G4C Vanguard Award for his commitment to play-based learning and social impact. Meanwhile, Ubisoft was given the first ever G4C Industry Leadership Award for its dedication to accessibility and learning, as well as its positive influences in the video games industry.
Here are the winners of this year’s Games for Change Awards!
Best Gameplay Award – Gris (Nomada Studio)
Most Innovative Award – Tendar (Tender Claws)
Most Significant Impact Award – UNICEF Kid Power (UNICEF USA)
Best Learning Game Award – Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt (Ubisoft)
Best Student Game Award– Prism (Yidi Zhu, Dan Wolpow, Ridima Ramesh, Yutian Zheng, Xueyang Wang)
Best XR for Change Award – Homestay (National Film Board of Canada)
People’s Choice Award – Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt(Ubisoft)
Game of the Year – Nintendo Labo (Nintendo)
Photos and Videos
Feel free to check out photos of the festival on our Flickr account and share them with your networks and friends. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when our Festival videos are uploaded!
While the fun of the festival may be over, stay tuned! We have more exciting events planned. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about what Games for Change is up to.