The fourth annual Games For Change festival, held on June 11th and 12th, 2007, was hosted in New York City by Parsons The New School for Design. During the two-day event, non-profit activists and academics converged with independent game designers to discuss the use of gaming to promote social agendas, and the event’s Expo Night, held on June 11th and sponsored by Microsoft, featured a showcase of this year’s games, the most notable of which were honored with Games for Change “Ga-Cha” Awards.
Following is Gamasutra’s full coverage of the Games for Change festival, including keynotes, a variety of panel reports, an interview with Jeff Bell, Corporate Vice President of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft Corp. and a roundup of the games showcased at Expo Night.
Games for Change identifies itself as a community partner, guided by the needs and activities of its membership. Its roots lie in the idea that games influence social and cultural mores for better or worse, and encourages developer responsibility for design choices that focus on the goals of impacting the world in a positive way—which need not be at odds with a fun experience.
Susan Seggerman, President of G4C, said that to continue reaching their core audience—and to engage a new one—nonprofits need to emphasize process over product in the “field-building” stages, weighing heavily the value of what’s learned in collaborations like those between GlobalKids and GameLab. In that vein, Seggerman also announced that G4C will partner in a major long-term, multi-year initiative with Xbox and Windows, possibly including the Boys and Girls Clubs and Club Tech.
“We are having, in this partnership with Microsoft, an impact on how this giant is thinking about socially responsible gaming,” Seggerman said. “That’s really an amazing thing that this community has done.
“At the same time, we are learning from Microsoft how important it is that our games are viable in the open market.”
Seggerman also announced a number of other developments new to G4C over previous years—this year, the MacArthur foundation bestowed the organization with a community-building grant, to be used in initiatives both on and off-line. G4C will also continue its partnership with MTV, and plans to announce later this year the launch of a major site, which will include some of the festival’s games.
Additionally, G4C will partner with MoveOn.org on the issue of net neutrality, its first public policy initiative announced this year.
Seggerman recognizes that while the idea exchange between the nonprofit and the technology world requires an engagement that pushes traditional comfort zones, the collaborative process is of primary value to the organization. “What’s important,,” Seggerman says, “is that these groups are all very different and divergent, and they have different strengths. The productive tensions and conflicts that happen when these groups come together is the greatest thing that this community has going for us. We need to have these in order to do what we’re trying to do.”