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Civics & Social Issues [clear filter]
Thursday, June 23

11:00am EDT

Failing to Change
Failure. It's not something we usually talk about in the games for change community. This is ironic, because games are all about failure—playing them involves learning from each failure we experience. In fact, you could say that game designers are failure experts!
However, when we speak of our work, we like to focus on our successes. How does this help us learn as a community? It doesn’t! This is a session about failure and what it can teach us, through a meditation on the meaning of failure in games for change and some painfully true stories from the field. 

avatar for Colleen Macklin

Colleen Macklin

Founder and co-director, PETLab
Colleen Macklin is a game designer, professor in of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design, and founder/co-director of PETLab (Prototyping Education + Technology Lab), a lab that develops games for learning and social engagement. PETLab projects include disaster-preparedness... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:00am - 11:15am EDT
Room 104

11:00am EDT

We All Want to Be in the Room Where it Happens
In the Broadway hit, Hamilton, Aaron Burr sings about a famous meeting between Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, “I wanna be in the room where it happens.” Gigantic Mechanic makes live-action games that combine theatrical elements, role-playing, and face-to-face interaction. Instead of running towards virtual reality and telepresence, we’ve sprinted in the opposite direction towards games that put players in the same real room to sort through issues together. In this talk, we share some of our key design insights from designing the Senate Immersion Module for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute and other live-action games that address complex issues like drones to games that facilitate imaginative play between parents and kids.

avatar for Greg Trefry

Greg Trefry

Greg Trefry co-founded the design studio Gigantic Mechanic to create engaging experiences through real-world, physical and social play. He has made everything from live-action simulations to documentary video games for clients, ranging from museums to amusement parks to TV networks... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:00am - 11:30am EDT
Tishman Auditorium

11:15am EDT

Show, Don't Tell: Making Personal Games
Anna Anthropy, creator of Dys4ia once said "videogames let you set up goals for the player and make them fail toachieve them. A reader cannot fail a book. It’s an entirely different level of empathy.” This talk will explore how games have the power to communicate complex concepts through playful interactions. Using her capstone project as a case study, Independent Games Festival winner Jenny Jiao Hsia will present the design challenges she has encountered in making a personal game about dieting and body image. Lessons from this project can be applied to all kinds of games for change.

avatar for Jenny Jiao Hsia

Jenny Jiao Hsia

cuteness consultant, hexecutable
Jenny Jiao Hsia is a 21 year-old Chinese-American game developer, born and raised in New York City. She is currently finishing up her BFA in game design at the NYU Game Center and has been making games for two long years. Her capstone project is called Consume Me and it is a personal... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am EDT
Room 104

11:30am EDT

Comedy, Games and Social Change
When we think of games about important social issues, many of us tend to assume that comedy has no place in any treatment of such serious topics. Yet, on the contrary, humor can play an important role in humanizing difficult situations and helping us feel empathy for characters. This presentation will highlight several examples of games that effectively use absurdity and silliness to tell memorable stories about living in the world as a marginalized person. You may even actually laugh at some point. Hopefully.

avatar for Dietrich Squinkifer

Dietrich Squinkifer

Mx. Dietrich Squinkifer (Squinky) is a writer, programmer, musician, and visual artist who creates games and playable experiences about gender identity, social awkwardness, and miscellaneous silliness. They have an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media from UC Santa Cruz, and in 2015... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:30am - 11:45am EDT
Room 104

11:45am EDT

Gaming for Good: A Disruptive Innovation

Whether in the movies or in the media, gamers often are stereotyped as loners, slacktavists and introverts and linked to violent video games. However, the donation data disproves these myths. Gamers are generous, caring, team-oriented and they know how to solve problems. Gamers coming together for a common cause can change the world and be a “Life Force” for good. Over the past four years, gamers have helped to fund more than $20 million of programs for Save the Children including #GamingTuesday. You do not have to be a gamer nor a large organization to learn from gamers.

avatar for Ettore Rossetti

Ettore Rossetti

Senior Director of Social Business Strategy & Innovation, Save the Children
Ettoré Rossetti is the Senior Director of Social Business Strategy & Innovation at the global nonprofit organization, Save the Children. His purview includes social media, live-streaming, charity gaming and innovative fundraising. Ettoré has been with Save the Children for 10... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:45am - 12:00pm EDT
Room 104

2:00pm EDT

21st-Century Armageddon: Why Nuclear Weapons are Too Important NOT to Play With
What do you think of when you hear “nuclear weapons”? Action movies? Spy films? Maybe you think about history, and how nukes are a bygone issue. Or maybe you just don’t think about them at all.
In this session, Paul Carroll of the N Square collaborative will discuss how current games treat nuclear catastrophe as a backdrop to narrative, summarize the current realities of the world’s nuclear weapons status, and how with their new game Epic Orphan will be more forward-thinking on how this subject is being treated.

avatar for Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll

Director of Programs, Ploughshare Fund and N Square

Thursday June 23, 2016 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Room 105

2:00pm EDT

State of the Union
Join former GameSpot editor and current managing editor of Feminist Frequency Carolyn Petit as she shares her insights about the current state of the gaming industry. Drawing on her unique experiences as a visible transgender woman at a major videogame site, Carolyn will illuminate how certain limiting attitudes and ideas have become entrenched in games culture, and how we can challenge and subvert those ideas. Her talk will explore how game designers, journalists, PR people, and fans can seize the transitional moment in which we find ourselves to help foster a games culture that is truly more diverse, inclusive, and exciting for everyone.

avatar for Carolyn Petit

Carolyn Petit

Managing Editor, Feminist Frequency
I spent four years as an editor at GameSpot, where my experiences as a publicly transgender woman in the games media gave me a unique perspective on the state of games culture. My review of Grand Theft Auto V for GameSpot, which touched on issues of misogyny in the game, caused quite... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

3:00pm EDT

A Global Community for Global Change
Can a volunteer and collaborative approach be applied to game development and distribution? The non-profit organization Video Games Without Borders has been experimenting in this direction for more than a year, building a global community of volunteer developers and focusing on games with a positive impact on the society. Many are the challenges, especially about the productivity and the sustainability of such a model, but the feedback received so far has proven its potential and its interest among both students and experienced professionals. Let's analyze together the lessons learned through the development of the organization.

avatar for Francesco Cavallari

Francesco Cavallari

Founder, Video Games Without Borders
Recently graduated in Computer Science, Francesco joined Ubisoft in 1999 and developed commercial video games for more than 15 years. As Programmer, Producer, and Production Director, he worked in several European studios and collaborated with development teams all around the world... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 3:00pm - 3:15pm EDT
Room 104

3:15pm EDT

Exploring Art, Narrative, and Mental Health in Anamorphine
avatar for Samantha Cook

Samantha Cook

Co-founder and Producer, Artifact 5
Samantha Cook is a jack of all trades. She leverages her backgrounds in game production, community management, not-for-profit grant-giving at Artifact 5, where she is a co-founder and producer. She has worked in social media and community management, has a B.A. in English Literature... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 3:15pm - 3:30pm EDT
Room 104
Friday, June 24

10:45am EDT

Empathy Overload: Choice Matters
1979 Revolution creator and Grand Theft Auto veteran Navid Khonsari discusses the immense potential of connecting people through interaction and choice-making in games. In a digital landscape oversaturated by the messaging of empathy, games should ask people what they think instead of telling them. Using the recent groundbreaking release of 1979 Revolution as a case study, Khonsari unpacks a bold world vision, rewards, and pitfalls of making impact-forward, edgy, real stories into games.

avatar for Navid Khonsari

Navid Khonsari

Co-Founder, iNK Stories
Founder of the independent studio iNK Stories, Navid Khonsari is known for having developed the cinematic look and feel for groundbreaking AAA video games such as Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, The Warriors, Midnight Club, Manhunt, Red Dead Revolver, Alan Wake, Homefront and more.  Called... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 10:45am - 11:00am EDT
Room 104

11:30am EDT

How To Be Better at Sex (in Video Games)
Artist, scholar, and writer Robert Yang wants to talk about sex. Most people think sexual intercourse is important, and games should explore important topics, but most design methodologies for making videogames are breathtakingly terrible for depicting sex. In this talk, we will consider current popular attitudes about sex in games, common critiques, and better ways to do it all.

avatar for Robert Yang

Robert Yang

Robert Yang is an indie game developer, academic, and writer, based in New York City. He regularly teaches game development and design within NYU Game Center at New York University, IDM at NYU Poly School of Engineering, and MFADT at Parsons the New School for Design.

Friday June 24, 2016 11:30am - 12:00pm EDT
Room 104

2:45pm EDT

Reaching New Audiences with Interactive Stories: The Power of Genre
Sam Barlow was the creator of the critically acclaimed digital police procedural Her Story and is currently directing an interactive reboot of War Games at Interlude in New York. Here he explores how telling stories within popular genres can pull in new audiences and enhance interactivity. Taking in notable examples that have looked outside traditional games for their inspiration he then looks to the future of interactive storytelling.

avatar for Sam Barlow

Sam Barlow

Writer and Designer of Her Story
Sam Barlow is a BAFTA Award winning game director and writer who has been making games since his cult 1999's title, Aisle. Barlow has an extensive history of making games that create deep personal connections with their players. With Silent Hill: Shattered Memories he created a classic... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 2:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Room 104

4:00pm EDT

Games Bridging the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Beyond
Justin Hefter, the CEO of Bandura Games, shares lessons learned from observing the gameplay of hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian youth, and how these lessons can help developers build games to bridge ethnic, religious and racial conflicts.

avatar for Justin Hefter

Justin Hefter

Founder and CEO, Bandura Games
Justin Hefter is the founder and CEO of Bandura Games, a mobile game company started by an American, Israeli, and Palestinian team. Bandura Games uses mobile games as the medium for creating connections and empathy for people of diverse backgrounds from around the world. Prior to... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 4:00pm - 4:15pm EDT
Room 104

4:15pm EDT

Extra Life: Play Games, Heal Kids, and Get Involved in Your Community
avatar for Mandy McKenna

Mandy McKenna

President, Extra Life NYC Guild
Mandy is President of the Extra Life NYC Guild, where she leads a group of dedicated volunteers who spread the word about Extra Life, and recruit new Extra Life participants around New York City. She has been a community volunteer in various capacities throughout all of her life... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 4:15pm - 4:30pm EDT
Room 104

4:30pm EDT

Games and Governance: Designing Games with International Organizations
At the Engagement Lab, students, staff and faculty design games (digital and analog) for local social impact in the developing world. Learn about the challenges and opportunities of co-designing with development and humanitarian organizations, such as UNICEF and the Red Cross, in such a way that has immediate benefit to players and builds capacity for the organization. With special guests from UNDP Egypt.

avatar for Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon

Founder and Executive Director, The Engagement Lab @ Emerson College
Eric Gordon is a game designer and scholar focused on civic engagement, learning, and play. He is an associate professor at Emerson College and the founder and executive director of the Engagement Lab (http://elab.emerson.edu). He is also a faculty associate at the Berkman Center... Read More →
avatar for Gazbia Sorour

Gazbia Sorour

UNDP Egypt
Gazbia Sorour works in the United Nations Development Programme in Egypt with the Innovation for Development Team. She graduated from the American University in Cairo with a degree in Political Science and History. During her time in UNDP Egypt. She was one of the founders of the... Read More →
avatar for Sherif El Tokali

Sherif El Tokali

UNDP Egypt
Sherif El Tokali is Assistant Resident Representative at the United NationsDevelopment Programme (UNDP) Egypt Country Office and the Innovation forDevelopment Team Leader. Tokali joined UNDP Egypt in 1991 and has been workingon promoting the Information and Communications Technology... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
Room 105