Games for Change (Day 2 Recap)

Posted by Justin D Williams

Games for Change marked the second day of their 15th annual festival with programming that focused on looking into the past decade and future of social impact games. Key themes explored included games and empathy, connected cities, VR in the classroom, transforming STEM learning, news literacy, and more.

Day 2 Highlights included:

●        a panel moderated by Jennifer McNamara (Vice President Serious Games, BreakAway Games), Kelli Dunlap (Mental Health and Games Manager, iThrive Games), Lindsay Grace (Director, American University Game Lab) and Victoria Van Voorhis (Founder and CEO, Second Avenue Learning), which discussed the World Health Organization’s proposal of including ‘gaming disorder’ in the ICD-11. Panelists addressed WHO actions and the continued critique of games and worked to equip attendees for meaningful dialog on the issue;

●        an exclusive first look at Hololab Champions VR, a game looking to assist students with learning chemistry, presented by Jesse Schell (CEO, Schell Games) and Harley Baldwin (Vice President of Design, Schell Games);

●        the team from Microsoft Xbox was on hand  led a panel on industrial design for inclusivity moderated by Chris Kujawski (Senior Designer, Microsoft Device Design Team, Microsoft) featuring Richard Ellenson (CEO, Cerebral Palsy Foundation), Erin Hanley (Web Content Producer, The Geeky Gimp) and Festival attendee Andrew Pilkington. Panelists explored the concept of games as a “shared human” experience and the development process of the new game console.


Keynote presentations were given by:

●     Mimi Ito (Director, Connected Learning Lab, University of California, Irvine), who spoke to her ongoing research on interest-driven and digitally enabled learning, and describe connected learning, as a framework for how to best support learning in a digitally connected era;

●     Sam Gill (Vice President/Communities & Impact, Senior Adviser to the President, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) and Gabriel Stricker (Vice President of Communications, Niantic, Inc.) spoke about how technology is changing our relationship to the places we live to enable more engaged communities;

●      Jeffrey Burrell (Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Riot Games), spoke to various programs and design decisions that Riot Games uses to help deliver sustainable, long-term value for players and communities around the world;

●     and Ken Perlin (Professor of Computer Science, New York University), who spoke about the future of connectivity and communication.