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Games For Change Festival 2013 – Overview

From Games for Change’s 10th Annual Festival occupied NYC’s World Stages for three days from June 17 to 19, wrapping its series of panel discussions, workshops and keynote presentations featuring Google honcho Michael T. Jones, Brenda Romero, Jesse Schell, Leigh Alexander, Eric Zimmerman, Ian Bogost, Robin Hunicke and others, with the presentation of juried awards to game developers in four categories:

• Most Innovative: Blindside, developed by Epicycle for Mac, PC, iOS, is a fully-immersive 3D audio adventure inspired by one of the creators’ personal story of being temporarily blinded in a high school chemistry accident. It positions players in a world they’ll never be able to see. The project was funded by a vigorous and successful Kickstarter campaign. The Most Innovation Award exemplifies the use of creativity and technical experimentation in a manner that may pave new ways for “games for change,” including unique game design, new technology, or reach to new audiences.

• Best Gameplay: Reach for the Sun, developed by Filament Games for the Web, gives players the tools to help a young seedling grow and reproduce before winter comes. The game teaches about the intellegence of the bio-machine that mixes starch, nutrients and water to fuel growth of leaves, roots, and petals. The project was funded by the US Department of Education. The Best Gameplay Award winner exemplifies highly compelling and engaging game play that aligns with and reinforces social issue goals, and is also polished in design, functionality, and thematic execution.

• Most Significant Impact: Data Dealer, developed by Cuteacute Media OG for the Web, raises awareness about privacy issues by having participants collect, collate and sell personal data by tracking Web sites dedicated to seemingly innocuous activities such as dating. The project was funded by several Viennese and Austrian government agencies supporting the arts and culture. The Most Significant Impact Award goes to a game that best exemplifies impact on a specific social issue with proven actions/outcomes.

• Game of the Year: Quandary, developed by Learning Games Network for Mac and PC, has players shaping the future of a new society while learning how to identify ethical issues and deal with challenges in their own lives. This is the latest project from Learning Games Network, which grew out of MIT’s The Education Arcade, in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin’s Games+Learning+Society Program. The Game of the Year Award is the most prestigious prize presented by Games For Change, and the winner best exemplifies excellence in Impact, Innovation, and Gameplay.

Additionally, Games for Change presented it’s first Game Changer Award to Jesse Schell, recognizing his significant contributions to the global gaming community and his work to inspire and mentor a new generation of game creators and creative game design.



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