This event has ended. Visit the official site or create your own event on Sched.
Visit gamesforchange.org/festival for the full Festival website.

Sign up or log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Neurogaming & Health [clear filter]
Thursday, June 23

11:30am EDT

Big Picture: A Conversation About Neuroscience
In this conversation Dr. Kevin Ochsner, head of the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at Columbia University, and Asi Burak will discuss the latest opportunities and challenges in neuroscience research, including: our understanding of brain plasticity over the decades; how games could become vehicles for transformation and what other vehicles exist; how the brain deals with habits and the change of habits; how could we train the brain in specific domains and how experiences (through games) differ from reflective thinking and traditional learning.

avatar for Asi Burak

Asi Burak

Board Chairman, Games for Change
Asi is a veteran of the videogame and technology industries, and an award-winning executive producer and designer.  For the past five years, he served as the President of Games for Change (replaced by Susanna Pollack), and he is now Chairman of the Board.He served as a strategic... Read More →

avatar for Kevin Ochsner

Kevin Ochsner

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology, Columbia University
Kevin received his in Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Harvard University and received postdoctoral training in social psychology and functional neuroimaging at Harvard and Stanford Universities. Kevin currently is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:30am - 12:00pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

12:00pm EDT

Democratizing Bio-Sensing Tools With OpenBCI
Joel Murphy of OpenBCI will give a "neuro-powered" talk about his company and mission and what it means to democratize in the field of brain-computer interface (BCI). Joel will wear an OpenBCI Ultracortex headset that will read his EEG (brainwaves) and EMG (muscle movements) and allow him to control the presentation and slides through it. He will showcase examples of applications that members of its growing community have created and talk about the potential applications of BCI in gaming. A volunteer from the audience will be invited to do a live demo using the headset to control a robotic hand on stage!

avatar for Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

President, OpenBCI
Joel Murphy is President of OpenBCI, Inc, an Open Source Hardware companyspecializing is biosensing tools. He's also co-founder of World Famous Electronics,makers of the Pulse Sensor, an open-source optical heart-rate monitor. Joel taughtPhysical Computing at Parsons from 2006 to... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 12:00pm - 12:30pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

2:00pm EDT

Video Games as Meditation
The single most powerful technology we know for transforming consciousness and deepening happiness is an ancient one: meditation. In this talk, we analyze meditation as a game design — one played with the function of revealing and dissolving other games that are played unconsciously. Robin Arnott, the VR "technodelic" designer of SoundSelf, will demonstrate how meditation systems can be adapted to and even improved by modern videogaming technology.

avatar for Robin Arnott

Robin Arnott

Developer of SoundSelf
Robin is a game designer and interactive artist based in Austin, TX, and Black Rock City, NV. He plays with hacking perception, particularly of the boundary between self and not-self. His new VR game, SoundSelf, uses the player's intuitive identification with their voice to leverage... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Room 104

2:30pm EDT

Heal Thyself: What Makes Health Games Work?
Games have shown promise to help us survive diseases, heal psychological wounds, understand neuroscience, improve physical fitness, and guide us to a healthier life. For every such game that is an inspiring gem, there are many more that utterly fail in their intended purpose. This session showcases successes and explores the essential elements that make a health-focused game something useful, compelling, and playable. The session will also explore the failures that may have had good intentions but couldn’t cut it as a game. The lessons gleaned from those are also most valuable. Audience interaction welcomed.

avatar for Thomas Talbot, M.D.

Thomas Talbot, M.D.

Principal Medical Expert, USC Institute for Creative Technologies
Dr. Talbot has been at the center of many of the nation’s major medical simulation and gaming efforts as a Defense Department gaming proponent & innovator. As Principal Medical Expert at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, he creates virtual human interactive patients... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 2:30pm - 3:00pm EDT
Room 104

3:00pm EDT

Well Played: Project Syria
What makes a game good? Or bad? Or better? Building on the ETC Press books and journal and the success of live sessions, Ralph Vituccio (Asst Teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University) will analyze Project Syria, an immersive journalism piece, for the audience to help highlight the virtual reality experience and open up a discussion about the unique impact VR can have. The goal is to help develop and define a literacy of games and interactive media as well as a sense of their value as an experience. These sessions are not a part of the selection and jurying of the festival, instead they are purely to inspire discussion amongst festival attendees.

avatar for Drew Davidson

Drew Davidson

Director, etc@cmu
Drew Davidson is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds and he is interested in stories across texts, comics, games and other media. He is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carn... Read More →
avatar for Ralph Vituccio

Ralph Vituccio

Ralph Vituccio is an Associate Teaching Professor at the Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University. His interactive projects on racism, sexual assault and conflict management have won numerous national media awards. As an independent artist, his documentaries have... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 3:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

4:00pm EDT

How We Bridged the Gap Between Science Fiction and Reality
In 2009, Star Wars Force Trainer and MindFlex hit the holiday season with a big splash. In the next few years, these products were covered by all kinds of popular TV and talk shows. They even made front pages on mainstream newspapers and magazines worldwide. NeuroSky shares the journey of bringing a technology that’s ahead of its time to the mainstream consumers. It took a year to build the product but almost two years to solve the challenge of bringing EEG brainwave technology to the masses. Stanley Yang discusses the ups and downs of strategic decisions before the first product launch.

avatar for Stanley Yang

Stanley Yang

As CEO of NeuroSky, Inc., Stanley Yang leads the strategic vision and management of the company. NeuroSky, Inc. is at the forefront of body and mind monitoring and analysis. Its wearable biosensor technologies and interpretive algorithms are at the core of innovative health and wellness... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 4:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
Room 104

4:00pm EDT

Industry Circle Town Hall

Games for Change is celebrating its 13th conference this year, but how close are we to transforming from a movement to a self-sustaining industry? 

 In this interactive Town Hall will provide an overview of what we have accomplished, and what is left to achieve to build the games for change community into a sustainable industry.

Former White House Senior Advisor for Digital Media, Mark DeLoura will frame the issue and present examples to draw on. Representatives of companies on the vanguard of building the impact games sector will highlight their efforts in supporting this transformation. And Q&A with the audience will open the session up to an important community-wide investigation of where we are as a field and what we still need to do to grow the industry and ensure that the good work that harnesses positive power of games continues to flourish for years to come.

avatar for Mark DeLoura

Mark DeLoura

Former Senior Advisor for Digital Media, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Mark DeLoura is a veteran technologist with a passion for computer science education and games for learning. In 2013-2014 he worked in the Obama Administration as Senior Advisor for Digital Media at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to his role at the... Read More →

avatar for Scott Price

Scott Price

Director of Product, BrainPOP
I've been making games for learning, and playful learning and assessment, for 12 years.  I can advise on:• publishing and distributing games in formal education market (schools, classrooms)• game design for classroom use• game design for learning in and out of the classroom... Read More →
avatar for Jesse Schell

Jesse Schell

CEO, Schell Games
Jesse is the CEO of Schell Games, the largest game design and development company in Pennsylvania. He also serves as Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon University. Jesse has worked on a wide variety of innovative game and simulation... Read More →
avatar for Margaret Wallace

Margaret Wallace

CEO, Playmatics
Margaret Wallace is Chief Executive Officer of Playmatics, award-winning creators of digital and real-world games, virtual and real-world experiences. She was named one of Forbes “12 Women in Gaming to Watch” and, in 2014, Wallace was highlighted by Fortune as one of “10 Powerful... Read More →
avatar for Dan White

Dan White

CEO, Filament Games
Dan White believes that good gameplay and good learning are complementary rather than oppositional forces. An alumnus of Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dan earned an M.S. in Education Technology under seminal learning game scholars Drs. Kurt Squire... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 4:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

4:30pm EDT

Panel - From Fantasy to Empathy: Changing Game Dialogue For the Real World
In commercial games, dialogue is written to serve the player’s power fantasy — even well-intentioned games tend to reward players who put their own desires ahead of others'. But does that have to be the case? Can game dialogue actually help people build empathy and learn to communicate better? Come hear Kognito’s Seth Bleecker and Jennifer Hepler, formerly of Bioware's Dragon Age series and Star Wars: The Old Republic, discuss how Kognito has built an evidence-based conversation model, as well as games to help doctors, teachers, and parents learn how to communicate sensitively and effectively around critical topics in emotional, social, and physical health.

avatar for Seth Bleecker

Seth Bleecker

Manager, Instructional Design, Kognito Interactive
Seth designs and writes branching narrative games to teach empathy and communication skills. At Kognito, he discovered that these skills are more teachable and learnable than we might think. Ever since, he\\'s been developing simulations in an attempt to make the world a better place.When... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Hepler

Jennifer Hepler

Writer and Instructional Designer, Kognito Interactive
Jennifer Brandes Hepler has worked in games for over a decade, first as a senior writer at Bioware, on the Dragon Age franchise and Star Wars: The Old Republic, then lead writer on Disruptor Beam's Game of Thrones Ascent. This year, she followed a long-time interest in psychology... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
Room 104
Friday, June 24

10:45am EDT

Virtual Worlds, Real Results
Snow World is the iconic VR game that has inspired playwrights and allowed burn victims to laugh even as their wounds are scrubbed. In this talk, Ari Hollander describes 20 years of developing immersive games and VR applications that have helped minds and bodies heal and how the advent of videogames has changed people and culture, preparing them for 2017: the year that VR will change the world.

avatar for Ari Hollander

Ari Hollander

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, DeepStream VR
Ari Hollander is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of DeepStream VR, astartup company that is leveraging the massive brain-bandwidth of virtual reality torevolutionize healthcare with real-time personalized medicine. Ari has degrees inAstrophysics and Human Interface Technology... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 10:45am - 11:15am EDT
Room 105

11:15am EDT

Is Hacking the Brain The Future of Gaming?
Explore this question through the user experiences of Palmer's latest neurogame Syncself 2 and the R&D process of Futureself & Riot. Palmer will share her personal experience and insights, having traveled with her work internationally and the insights revealed from participants themselves. She will also reference a few significant immersive gaming experiences to explore how the field is moving towards self-development.

avatar for Karen Palmer

Karen Palmer

C.E.O., Interactive Film Ltd
Karen is an award winning Film Director/Digital Artist. Her work fuses immersive storytelling technologies with film. She is an international speaker on her unique form of storytelling. Including being a keynote speaker at DiGRA 2015 Academic Digital Games Conference Germany and speaker... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am EDT
Room 105

11:30am EDT

Panel - Rewiring the Brain: Anxiety Treatment Through Gameplay
What if a casual game could be used to treat clinical anxiety? Seeing the Good Side, developed by American University's Game Lab in collaboration with researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leverages a common game genre, hidden object puzzles, to provide a "gaming regimen" for children with anxiety. Through careful research and close collaboration with NIH, the design team realized that key aspects of hidden-object puzzles closely mimic the NIH's innovative but repetitive neurological training program. The gaming regimen will be evaluated in a clinical trial later this year.

avatar for Lindsay Grace

Lindsay Grace

Director and Associate Professor, American University Game Lab
Lindsay Grace is a professor, game designer, programmer, and artist. Lindsay is an associate professor at American University and founding director of the American University Game Lab and Studio. His game designs have received numerous awards and he has published more than 50 papers... Read More →
avatar for David Pagliaccio

David Pagliaccio

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institute of Mental Health
David Pagliaccio, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in the Emotion & Development Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Pagliaccio completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis with Dr. Deanna Barch examining stress and depression effects on... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 11:30am - 12:15pm EDT
Room 105

1:30pm EDT

Well Played: That Dragon, Cancer

What makes a game good? Or bad? Or better? Building on the ETC Press books and journal and the success of live sessions, NICK FORTUGNO  will play a That Dragon Cancer to help analyze the gameplay experience and open up a discussion about the unique impact games can have. The goal is to help develop and define a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. These sessions are not a part of the selection and jurying of the festival game entries, instead they are purely to inspire discussion amongst festival attendees.

avatar for Drew Davidson

Drew Davidson

Director, etc@cmu
Drew Davidson is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds and he is interested in stories across texts, comics, games and other media. He is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carn... Read More →
avatar for Nicholas Fortugno

Nicholas Fortugno

Co-Founder & CCO, Playmatics
Nick Fortugno is a designer of games and interactive narrative experiences and co-founder of Playmatics. Fortugno has been lead designer on dozens of works, including leading interactive narrative design on Frankenstein AI, shown at Sundance New Frontier, and on games and experiences... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 1:30pm - 2:00pm EDT
Room 104

2:15pm EDT

The Quest to Save the Human Brain
There are over 47 million people living with dementia worldwide with a new case discovered every 3 seconds. There are currently no treatments that slow or stop the progress of a disease that robs those we love of their ability to share in our most precious moments. Alongside scientists, developers, and dementia experts, Deutsche Telekom has developed a game capable of significantly advancing our understanding of the human brain. They have created the world’s largest crowdsourced database benchmarking human spatial navigation, helping bring scientists one step closer to developing new diagnostic tests for dementia.

avatar for Wolfgang Kampbartold

Wolfgang Kampbartold

VP of International Marketing Communications, Deutsche Telekom
Wolfgang Kampbartold is Vice President of International Marketing Communications at Deutsche Telekom AG. In his current role Kampbartold has overseen the creation of a number of award winning campaigns, all of which have sought to bring tangibility to Deutsche Telekom brand claim... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 2:15pm - 2:45pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

2:45pm EDT

How the Science of Game Design Can Inform the Science of Games for Change
A walk through Valve’s game design process, and how best practices from the creation of games for entertainment can be applied to games for change. In particular, Ambinder will describe how Valve applies the scientific method and iterates through the game design hypotheses. He will provide examples of psychological science that Valve applied, and discuss its emphasis on measuring the behavioral impact of their designs. This talk will serve as an argument for a focus on the ‘game’ side of the equation before the ‘change’ side as a necessary prerequisite to succeed at both.

avatar for Mike Ambinder

Mike Ambinder

Senior experimental psychologist, Valve
Mike Ambinder is a senior experimental psychologist at Valve who joined the company in 2008. He has a PhD in Experimental Psychology (with an emphasis on visual cognition) from the University of Illinois, and a BA in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale University. His work at... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 2:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

4:00pm EDT

Increasing Social Impact: Tools to Design Across Sectors

For two years, the #GameImpact project investigated sources of failure in articulating game impact. Our first results (published last year) showed the fault lines -- especially across sub-fields. Now we introduce and debate several “thinking tools” for executive producers, lead designers and funders. Here are strategies to avoid the holes between research and design, between impact and intention.


avatar for Asi Burak

Asi Burak

Board Chairman, Games for Change
Asi is a veteran of the videogame and technology industries, and an award-winning executive producer and designer.  For the past five years, he served as the President of Games for Change (replaced by Susanna Pollack), and he is now Chairman of the Board.He served as a strategic... Read More →
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 →
avatar for Benjamin Stokes

Benjamin Stokes

Assistant Prof., American University
Benjamin Stokes is a civic media scholar and designer at American University in the School of Communication and Game Lab. His designs for cities have introduced neighbors, retold local history, and rebuilt payphones. Previously, Benjamin co-founded Games for Change, the movement hub... Read More →

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

4:30pm EDT

Making Fitness Fun for Three Million People
Staying physically active and exercising every day isn’t easy — if it was, everyone would do it. But by creating a range of smartphone fitness games that are fun and exciting, Six to Start has motivated over 3 million people to exercise more. We’ll explore the design and development process behind our biggest games — Zombies, Run!, The Walk, and 7 Minute Superhero Workout — along with the crucial business decisions that have made the company a sustainable success.

avatar for Adrian Hon

Adrian Hon

CEO and Co-Founder, Six to Start
Adrian Hon is co-founder and CEO at Six to Start, creators of gamelike stories and story-like games including the world's bestselling smartphone fitness game, Zombies, Run! with over two million players. Six to Start's clients have included Disney, the BBC, Channel 4, and Penguin... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium

5:15pm EDT

Keynote - Digital Medicine: The Quest for the First FDA-Approved Game, with Dr. Adam Gazzaley
Innovative neuroscientist, Adam Gazzaley, will describe an approach developed in his lab that uses custom-designed video games to achieve meaningful and sustainable cognitive enhancement, as well the next stage of his research program, which uses video games integrated with technological innovations in software (e.g., brain computer interface algorithms, GPU computing) and hardware (e.g., virtual reality headsets, motion capture, mobile EEG) to create personalized closed loop systems. He will share with you his journey from the basic science research that inspired these translational efforts, to the founding of Akili Interactive Labs, to their latest quest for the first FDA-approved action video game.  

avatar for Adam Gazzaley

Adam Gazzaley

Neuroscientist, Co-founder, Akili Interactive Labs
Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at the UC San Francisco, and the Founding Director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center, Neuroscape Lab and the Gazzaley Lab. His lab explores mechanisms of neuroplasticity and designs, develops and validates... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 5:15pm - 5:45pm EDT
Tishman Auditorium