Games for Change, an organization that advocates using video games to create social change, announced nominees for the second Games for Change Awards as part of the 9th Annual Games for Change Festival. The festival is the largest games gathering in New York City and the biggest event focused on leveraging entertainment and engagement for social good.
The Games for Change Awards have four categories: Most Significant Impact, games targeted at a specific social issue with proven actions and outcomes; Most Innovative Game, games that are creative and aspiring, whether through unique game design, technology, or audiences; Best Gameplay, games with highly compelling and engaging gameplay which also reinforce social issue goals; and Knight News Game, games that feature current events, documentary subject matter or infographic news data, or that exist as a news platform to engage individuals and communities. Additionally, a Game of the Year will be announced. This year, sixty-seven games were submitted and narrowed down to eight, and then three nominees were named in each categories. Nominees were chosen by a panel of thirty-five experts across the gaming industry, media, education, and philanthropy, among other areas.
The 2012 Games for Change Award nominees include:
- Most Significant Impact: The End, Family of Heroes, SPENT
- Most Innovative Game: Unmanned, WAY, Zamzee
- Best Gameplay: The End, Unmanned, WAY
- Knight News Game: Fibber – A Game About Political Deception, Nanu Planet, Unmanned
The organization listed the following information about each game:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- WAY: A two-player, online collaborative game in which anonymous strangers around the world learn to communicate through puppetry. Developer: CoCo & Co.
- Zamzee: An online rewards platform powered by physical activity. Developer: HopeLab, funded by HopeLab and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
I hadn’t heard of any of these games, but I’m interested in all of them and will be giving them a look. I think this is a noble cause, and I look forward to seeing these awards grow in the coming years. So much can be accomplished with video games, and I like that there’s increasing recognition for the positive influence that video games can have. I kind of wish that bigger companies would get involved, but I suppose we’ll have to wait a few years to see that happen. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see some good news coming from the gaming industry and I wish all the nominees luck.