What insights did you take away from Games for Change or Games for Health?

I thought that I would write a blog post with some of the key ideas that I took away from watching Games for Change Festival conference sessions. If, like me, you weren't able to attend Games for Change in person, you can watch the sessions online here. I separately enjoyed this wrap up of Games for Health, which I wasn't able to attend or view online.

Some takeaways that I had:

  • Game mechanics honed on social and mobile platforms (for example badges) have been used by game developers to help people make significant behavior changes in real life and are being adopted by big business: 
  • Everyone should check out WAY, which won Games for Change's Award for Most Innovative game of the year, and Spent (assuming you're not currently unemployed, which would make playing this game horribly depressing), which won Greatest Impact.
  • A lot of the games featured in case studies this year, whether they were online games or ARG, help us make connections for collaboration and greater cross-cultural understanding.
    • Navid Khonsari shows a new 1979 Iran game that puts you in the shoes of different characters whose stories illuminate the struggles of that time, prioritizes tablets for game development, and shares what  can learn from commercial games:
    • Chris Bell discusses how getting lost in Japan led to the development of "friendship" games like WAY: 
    • USC created an ARG (alternative reality game) to inspire new film students to collaborate with each other:  
  • One of the most powerful ways to engage students with gaming is to allow them to design games themselves or to engage in significant problem solving (not just in the rote memorization of facts). This doesn't necessarily have to involve technology.:
    • 'Steam for Schools' is a free version of Steam for students, facilitates Portal 2-based lessons  via 
    • There are significant opportunities for game designers to partner with libraries to reach new audiences: 
    • Opening remarks for Day Two: http://new.livestream.com/g4c/G4LIremarks
    • This keynote was really rich both in thoughts about the principals of game design and in specific examples of how games like The Sims could be used to help students develop critical problem solving skills in a way that significantly enhances traditional Social Studies education. Some quotes: "Any fact you're teaching should be a tool for problem solving." "We should teach students to be producers and not just consumers." James Paul Gee

Sarah Best is Content and Social Media Director for Mightybytes. As one of Foursquare's inaugural business partners, she has written and produced four Foursquare badges driving Chicago visitors and residents to explore the city while recreating Ferris Bueller's Day Off, eating as many Chicago-style hot dogs as they can, seeking out the roots of the Chicago Blues and more.

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Comment by Sarah Best on July 3, 2012 at 7:21pm

You're welcome!

Comment by CK on July 3, 2012 at 6:07pm

Sarah, in case no one has said it before, THANK YOU, for this blog post.  This is precisely the kind of detailed guidance that can help a newbie like myself avoid a lot of trial-and-error dog paddling and learn a lot in a hurry.  I am most grateful. Thanks again.


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