Sometimes it can feel like the game industry pumps out the same old games over and over again. Games for Change was founded in 2004 to promote the development of games to impact education and social change. They are holding their 11th annual Games for Change Festival in New York this year, April 22-24 &26h.
During the festival, there will be an awards ceremony held to honor the games and creators who have made influential games to promote positive social change and learning. These games usually have different game mechanics or play style, or include content that brings important issues to light. The categories include Most Significant Impact, Most Innovative, Best Gameplay, and Game of the Year.
Some of the nominees include Papers Please, The Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey, Start the Talk, Migrant Trail, Sound Self, Súbete al SITP, TyrAnt, and (my personal favorite) Gone Home.
Whether crowd-funded or supported by public and private funding, the finalists reflect the increasing diversity of forms, audiences and subject matter embraced by developers making games for change. To reach this stage, game developers from around the world were asked to submit their games for consideration by a blue-ribbon panel of judges featuring leaders of the gaming community, philanthropic sector, non-profits and education.
I’m super bummed that I won’t be able to make it out to the East Coast to attend this awesome event. Games are a way for us to connect with difficult material in a less threatening way. They also provide us with a (sometimes sneaky) way of providing important information and educational experiences in a fun and interactive way. Kids are more likely to be engaged with the material if they are playing a game than if they have to read a text book or listen to lecture. The fact that there is a festival to celebrate these types of games is proof that there enough people out there who want to see these games made, and people who will buy them.
I encourage everyone who can to go to the Games for Change Festival. Everyone else should pay attention to the interwebz for what happens there…oh and go play some of the games!