Tag Archives: games for change

g4c

I really don’t go to conferences any more…they are usually repackaged versions of the same old topics with the same old speakers. But attending the 11th Annual Games for Change Festival in New York last week was a breath of fresh air. There was no exhibition hall at G4C …only an entrance hall filled with gaming consoles and lots on interesting games to play. The audience was fun, smart and very causal and yes I did see a few participants with Google glasses!

The topics were diverse and fascinating. Some random observations:

  • Social games can deal with serious topics but at the end of the day they must be exciting, challenging and fun if they are going to engage players and keep their attention. Interesting games can cover serious topics.
  • A handful of presentations analyzed award winning games such as Papers, Please, Gone Home and Games for Peace. On the surface they appear to be interesting “play” games, yet on closer examination, presenters explained that they are constructed to engage players in more serious issues such as ethical decision making, developing empathy, roll playing behaviors, and teamwork.
  •  A hot topic discussed at the conference was using research to develop and refine games. Opinions on this topic were shared throughout the meeting.  Some developers had no use for research.   Other, especially those game developers who had worked in teams with educators or health providers such as Planned Parenthood supported the important role of research in getting the content right. It reminded me of trying to get creative directors at an ad agency to pretest their ads. Sigh.
  •  Most games for girls fall into two categories: makeup and dress up or educational games.  In a study of girls ages 8-14 presented by Rajal Pitroda, girls interviewed stated they wanted more variety; games that reflected their interests: adventure, sports even “shooter” games. They also wanted more variety in the girl characters that are portrayed in games. Seems to me there is a big untapped market there.

I sat in on some panels on using games to cultivate creativity and innovation in schools, make math fun and even promote conflict resolution in the Middle East among young adults. I learned that PBS has reincarnated Mr. Rodgers as a cartoon tiger called Daniel Tiger. He stills wears the cardigan sweater but it is just not the same.

I also learned that parents whose kids play games are the same as parents whose kids surf the internet and parents whose kids watched television. They worry about the time their kids spend playing games; they worry about the effect of games on their brain and personality; they limit the time they can play and they encourage them to go outside and play.

To find out more about the conference go to: http://gamesforchange.org/festival/.

Kudos to our friends and colleagues at Games for Change

Earlier this week they launched their innovative new project, Half the Sky http://www.gamesforchange.org/press-room/

And to their partners USAID, The Ford Foundation and Show of Force.

Its formal name – Half the Sky Movement Media and Technology Engagement Initiative – is a lot to remember and quite official-sounding….it doesn’t really tell you how exciting and groundbreaking this program is.

It is a mix of games and social media (Facebook game came on board early) and traditional media such as short videos to help change behavior and attitudes toward women and girls’.

What does it do?

Evidence shows that a combination of communication tools – games, videos, social media, news stories can contribute to a shift in attitudes and behaviors toward women and girls (gender). Half the Sky has corralled these new and traditional media tools to create multiple sources of information that reach populations at all levels – national and community.

Half the Sky has focused on pregnancy care – getting men involved in pregnancy care, elevating and equalizing girls’ status in their family, and deworming treatment and prevention.

The games that are part of Half the Sky – developed by Games for Change – will be launched in Kenya and India and are being translated to Swahili and Hindi.
Community interventions include three mobile phone games.

So…who made it happen?

USAID…The Ford Foundation…Facebook game developed by Frima Studio…Games for Change…Show of Force…

Congrats to all…and THANKS!