NEW YORK — Technology makes it easier to learn about and assist worthy causes worldwide in the “digital democratization” of philanthropy. Games for Change (www.gamesforchange.org/festival), the leading global advocate for supporting and making games for social impact, announced a broad and diverse group of nominees for its Games for Change Awards, which culminate the 9th Annual Games for Change Festival.
Returning for the second year to the NYU Skirball Center on June 18-20, the festival is one of the largest games gatherings in New York City and a leading global event focused on leveraging entertainment and engagement for social good.
“We’re seeing a new wave of games with even broader perspectives on social engagement and impact. Both the quantity and quality of this year’s submissions signal the growth of this sector in the gaming industry,” said Games for Change Co-Presidents Michelle Byrd and Asi Burak.
The awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 20 will bestow honors in four competitive categories – Most Significant Impact, Most Innovative Game, Best Gameplay, and Knight News Game – along with Game of the Year. This year saw the submission of 67 games, from which eight top titles were culled and three nominees named in each of the four categories. Nominees were chosen by a panel of 35 experts across the gaming industry, media, education and philanthropy, among other areas.
The 2012 Games for Change Award nominees include:
- Most Significant Impact (games targeted at a specific social issue, with proven actions and outcomes): The End, Family of Heroes, SPENT
- Most Innovative Game (excelling in creativity and aspiring to bring new ideas into “games for change,” whether through unique game design, technology or audiences): Unmanned, WAY, Zamzee
- Best Gameplay (highly compelling and engaging gameplay, game mechanics aligned with and reinforcing social issue goals): The End, Unmanned, WAY
- Knight News Game (supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to recognize games that feature current events, documentary subject matter or infographic news data, or that exist as a news platform to engage individuals and communities): Fibber – A Game About Political Deception, Nanu Planet, Unmanned
Following is information on this year’s eight nominated games:
- The End: A game of self-discovery that integrates strategy, puzzles and questions into a world which explores a range of commonly, or less commonly, held views about death. Developer: Preloaded, funded by Channel 4 Education (http://playtheend.com <http://playtheend.com/> ).
- Family of Heroes: A role-playing training game where families of returning veterans learn skills to manage common challenges in adjusting to post-deployment life including how to connect a veteran experiencing PTSD with support services at the VA. Developer: Kognito Interactive, funded by Kognito and Veterans Affairs of NY/NJ (www.familyofheroes.com <http://www.familyofheroes.com/> ).
- Fibber – A Game About Political Deception: Players engage in a “political strip guessing game” where they are asked to determine whether things said by Obama or Romney are fact or fib, and share their findings. Developer: Seekchange.org (http://seekchange.org/fibber <http://seekchange.org/fibber> ).
- Nanu Planet: The story of two space explorers who get separated on a planet split in two that serves as an allegory for Korea’s DMZ, de-militarized zone. (“Nanu” is Korean for “divided”). Developer: JCE, funded by Gyeonggi-do, Gyeonggi Digital Contents Agency, Samsung, JCE (www.greengrim.org/intro2.jce?request_locale=en <http://www.greengrim.org/intro2.jce?request_locale=en> ).
- Spent: Challenges players to make it through a month with little money and tough decisions. Developer: McKinney, funded by Urban Ministries of Durham and McKinney (http://playspent.org <http://playspent.org/> ).
- Unmanned: Play the newest kind of soldier: one who remotely drops bombs on foreign soil during the day, and at night goes home to his family. Developer: Molleindustria + No Media Kings (www.unmanned.molleindustria.org <http://www.unmanned.molleindustria.org/> ).
- Way: A two-player, online collaborative game in which anonymous strangers around the world learn to communicate through puppetry. Developer: CoCo & Co. (www.makeourway.com <http://www.makeourway.com/> ).
- Zamzee: An online rewards platform powered by physical activity. Developer: HopeLab, funded by HopeLab and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (www.zamzee.com <http://www.zamzee.com/> ).
Nominees will be featured as part of the CultureStream public programming at New York City’s World Financial Center's Winter Garden on Wednesday, June 6. Clips from the nominated games will be shown along with a live gameplay session in the evening.