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Civics & Social Issues [clear filter]
Thursday, June 28


Making a Game on a Topic You're Not Directly Concerned With: A Methodology
Before he started working on Bury me, my Love, a game about a Syrian migrant trying to reach Europe, game designer Florent Maurin questioned himself about his legitimacy. How was he going to be able to tell a reality-inspired story he did not actually live himself? Was such an endeavor even possible? And if so, what were the mandatory steps he had to take in order to be as respectful and truthful as possible? In this talk, he exposes the answers he came up with for those delicate questions.

avatar for Florent Maurin

Florent Maurin

President, The Pixel Hunt
Florent Maurin graduated from Lille's journalism school (France) in 2002. He then worked for Bayard Presse for ten years – lastly as editorial manager for Bayam, the group's online offer for kids and teenagers. He then founded The Pixel Hunt (TPH), a videogames studio with a focus... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 11:15am - 11:35am
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Game On: What We Learned from Launching Our First Location-Based Game @ PAX
Over Labor Day Weekend 2017, The Ad Council returned to PAX West with our Love Has No Labels campaign, celebrating diversity and inclusion for a second year. We realized that talking to attendees about such an important issue in the seconds you have them captive at a booth was challenging. While we raised awareness about the campaign, we wanted to engage them in a deeper way. We launched our first geo-location game with Artifact Technologies called The League of Extraordinary Humans. In our case study, we will share what worked and more importantly what was challenging about the experience.

avatar for Anastasia Goodstein

Anastasia Goodstein

SVP, Digital Innovation, The Ad Council
Anastasia serves as Senior Vice President of the Advertising Council’s Digital Innovation group where she leads digital strategy for all Ad Council campaigns. She has worked in media for the past 20+ years and helped launch youth oriented web and television properties for Oxygen... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 12:15pm - 12:35pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Project Briefs: Civics & Social Issues
Mitu Khandaker (Creative Partnerships Director, SpiritAI)

Lual Mayen (Founder and Developer, Junub Games)
Games for Peace Building

Amanda Warner (Games and Learning Creator)
Fake It To Make It – A Game Design Case Study

Jim Munroe (Director, Game Arts International Network)
A Gain for One is a Gain For All: Sharing Resources in the Game Arts

avatar for Mitu Khandaker

Mitu Khandaker

Creative Partnerships Director, Spirit AI
Dr. Mitu Khandaker is a critically-acclaimed game developer who brings her creative and technical expertise to the Spirit AI team. Her PhD looked at how VR changes our relationship with game characters. She is an Assistant Arts Professor of Game Design at NYU and a BAFTA Breakthrough... Read More →
avatar for Lual Mayen

Lual Mayen

Founder and Developer, Junub games
Lual Mayen, Developer, organizer of first GGJ in South Sudan, Founder and CEO Junub Games building peace through Video games because video, board and mobile games provide an entertaining and informative community activity. For this reason, Junub games play bigger picture in the reconciliatory... Read More →
avatar for Jim Munroe

Jim Munroe

Director`, Game Arts International Network
Jim Munroe is a “pop culture provocateur” according to the Austin Chronicle. His graphic novels and prose novels have been praised by Pulitzer-winner Junot Diaz and comics legend Neil Gaiman, and his lo-fi sci-fi feature films by Wired and the Guardian. His political videogames... Read More →
avatar for Amanda Warner

Amanda Warner

Game and Learning Creator
Amanda Warner creates games, courses, curriculums, and other experiences that focus on real-world change. Amanda has designed interactive learning for the past fifteen years, initially in the corporate sector, and now in collaboration with NGOs. Most of her recent work has targeted... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Starr Foundation


Panel - e4j@g4cal: Education for Justice at Games for Change América Latina 2018-2020
G4C América Latina is leading one among ten projects selected in 2017 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to address teenagers using non-digital games. The Brazilian team will share the conceptual, methodological and jamming strategies open to schools and NGOs in Latin America and in schools all over the world connected to UNESCO. Juliana Pinheiro, Gilson Schwartz and Diego Lombo Machado launch "Purposyum, Challengers of Justice", at the 15th annual G4C Festival and invite you to the 6th Annual G4C América Latina Festival next December, 2018 in Rio de Janeiro.

avatar for Gilson Schwartz

Gilson Schwartz

President, Games for Change Latin America
President, Games for Change Latin America, since 2010 and Associate Professor, Department of Film, Radio and TV, School of Communication and Arts, City of Knowledge Research Group, University of São Paulo. Economist, sociologist and journalist, author of "Play, Then Learn" (Portuguese... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 3:15pm - 4:10pm
Starr Foundation


The Case of Climate Change: 15 Years of Ecogames
Climate change is one of the most pressing socio-political issues of our time. On the basis of examples of so-called ecogames, the possibilities and limitations of games and play to make people become ecological citizens will be discussed. This talk acknowledges the necessity for a broad and diverse understanding of types of impact–on an individual, community and societal level-in order to come to grips with the complexity of this issue. Based upon a study of the history of Games for Change, different opinions on and models for game-based ecological impact-such as stand alone, portfolio, transmedia, evidence-based-will be discussed.

avatar for Joost Raessens

Joost Raessens

Full Professor and Chair of Media Theory, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Joost Raessens is chair and full Professor of Media Theory at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and scientific director of the Utrecht Center for Game Research (gameresearch.nl). In 2017-2018 he is a visiting scholar at NYU-CUNY. His research focuses on games for change in relation... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 4:45pm - 5:05pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


September 12th - A Well Played Retrospective
What makes a game good? or bad? or better? Building on the Well Played books and journal and the success of lives sessions, we will explore a game at the festival to help analyze the gameplay experience and open up a discussion around the unique positive social 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.

In this special Well Played session, join Matthew Weise as he takes a look back at the seminal social impact game September 12th and what we can learn from it in 2018.

avatar for Matthew Weise

Matthew Weise

CEO, Empathy Box
Matthew Weise is a game designer and educator whose work spans industry and academia. He is the CEO of Empathy Box, a company that specializes in narrative design for games and across media. He was the Narrative Designer at Harmonix Music Systems on Fantasia: Music Evolved, the Game... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 4:45pm - 5:15pm
Room 104


Keynote - Changing Games and Changing an Industry: A Career in Cultural Change Advocacy with Kate Edwards
After 25 years in the game industry as a culturalization expert and 5 years as Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), and now Executive Director of Take This, Kate Edwards has gained a unique perspective on the confluence of games, cultures, and advocating for change in both worlds. Kate will reflect on her professional passion and how that drives her to be a relentless force for change in the game industry.

avatar for Kate Edwards

Kate Edwards

CEO & Principal Consultant, Geogrify
Kate Edwards is a 25-year veteran and an outspoken advocate of the game industry who is the current Executive Director of Take This and the former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). She is also a geographer and corporate strategist who specializes... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 6:00pm - 6:30pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium
Friday, June 29


How Technology Is Changing Our Relationship to the Places We Live
In the midst of the Pokémon GO launch two years ago, Niantic partnered with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to experiment with ways that augmented reality technology could improve how people come together and interact in communities. Hear from Niantic and Knight Foundation about what they were trying to learn, what happened, and some lessons on how technology can (and can’t) accelerate efforts to enable more engaged communities.

avatar for Sam Gill

Sam Gill

Vice President/Communities & Impact, Senior Adviser to the President, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Sam Gill joined Knight Foundation in June 2015. In his capacity as VP/Communities and Impact, Gillleads Knight’s Community and National Initiatives team, which helps cities attract talent, expand opportunity and promote civic engagement. The foundation has resident program directors... Read More →
avatar for Gabriel Stricker

Gabriel Stricker

Vice President of Communications, Niantic, Inc.
Gabriel Stricker is the Vice President of Communications at Niantic, Inc., the spinoff of Alphabet Inc. focused on creating augmented reality games that encourage outdoor activity and exploration. He is the former Vice President of Policy and Communications at Google Fiber, and the... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 10:15am - 10:45am
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


The Meaning of Truth in Games for Investigative Journalism
When used in journalism, games, like all other forms of visual storytelling, must adhere to the journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy. But in a medium where all players will make their own decisions and are, at minimum, somewhat in charge of their own experiences, how exactly do we make games that adhere to those standards? Looking at the process of making "Asylum Seeker," a collaboration between game designers and an investigative journalism nonprofit, we’ll talk about misinterpretations, implications, and the journalistic vetting process on everything in the game, including all text, art and even the user experience.

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 →
avatar for Sisi Wei

Sisi Wei

Deputy Editor, ProPublica
Sisi Wei is the deputy editor for news applications at ProPublica, where she edits a team of investigative journalists/developers who build interactive stories to serve the public interest. Sisi's work has ranged from investigating which U.S. colleges saddle students with debt to... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 11:15am - 11:35am
Room 104


The Game: The Game (A Pick-Up Artist Dating Simulator)
After recently completing her long-term video game project "The Game: The Game", artist Angela Washko discusses the multi-year research process behind her pick-up artist dating simulator. Washko will screen excerpts from her interview with a seduction coach who has been dubbed “The Web’s Most Infamous Misogynist” and highlight instructional DVDs, books, and hidden-camera videos created by a community of pick-up artists to teach men how to interact with and seduce women. The talk will close with a discussion and a participatory play-through of The Game: The Game facilitated by the artist.

avatar for Angela Washko

Angela Washko

Assistant Professor of Art, Carnegie Mellon University
Angela Washko is an artist, writer and facilitator devoted to creating new forums for discussions of feminism in spaces frequently hostile toward it. Since 2012, Washko has operated The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft, an ongoing intervention... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 11:45am - 12:05pm
Room 105


Panel - Cities Remixing PokémonGO
How can cities remix and align popular games with local goals? More than a year after launch, several tried something new with PokémonGO. San Jose recruited more than 35,000 players to participate in an Open Streets event to reimagine public space; libraries in Philadelphia created neighborhood maps for players to engage with community murals. The future will likely bring more of these “mass-local” games. We profile some emerging tactics for city organizing.

avatar for Benjamin Stokes

Benjamin Stokes

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

avatar for Nathaniel Eddy

Nathaniel Eddy

Strategy Coordinator, Free Library of Philadelphia
Nate began his career with the Free Library in 2005 and served as an Adult/Teen Librarian at various Neighborhood Libraries throughout the city. In 2013, he joined the newly created Strategic Initiatives Department as Strategy Coordinator and has worked to advance the objectives of... Read More →
avatar for Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon

Director and Professor, Engagement Lab at Emerson College
Eric Gordon is the founding director of the Engagement Lab and a professor in the Department of Visual and Media Arts. Eric studies media and technology in civic and political participation. He is particularly interested in the transformation of civic institutions, including government... Read More →
avatar for Ed Solis

Ed Solis

Recreation Superintendent, City of San Jose
Ed leads the Placemaking Team for the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Service in San Jose, Ca. Ed's team lead public space activation in parks and the city's flagship open streets program, Viva CalleSJ. Ed is responsible for bringing open streets to San Jose which... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 11:45am - 12:30pm
Starr Foundation


Thunderbird Strike: Sovereign Game Development Without Borders
Thunderbird Strike is a 2D game which brings awareness to Indigenous perspectives on oil infrastructure by adapting Anishinaabe stories about thunderbirds into game design and mechanics to express the need for balance. Players are challenged to make choices for restoration or destruction during a revisioned retro style side-scroller. As an Indigenous-led game, Thunderbird Strike is an act of sovereignty which has drawn considerable attention and exemplifies the importance of self-determined games.

avatar for Elizabeth LaPensée

Elizabeth LaPensée

Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe from Baawaating with relations at Bay Mills Indian Community, Métis named for Elizabeth Morris, and settler-Irish... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 12:15pm - 12:35pm
Room 105


Panel - Xbox Adaptive Controller: Industrial Design for Inclusivity
The Xbox Adaptive Controller, amongst other tools and services from Microsoft, help make gaming on Xbox and Windows 10 PC more accessible than ever before. Join Xbox designers and experts from the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, to discuss challenges and opportunities in gaming with limited mobility.  The panel will also explore the industrial design of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, including the inherent importance for the Xbox team to create a controller that looked like it belonged within the Xbox family of devices, and right at home with what gamers expect.

avatar for Chris Kujawski

Chris Kujawski

Senior Designer, Microsoft Device Design Team, Microsoft
As an Industrial Designer on the Microsoft Device Design Team, Chris has worked on products across all of Microsoft’s major hardware businesses. He joined the PC Hardware group in 2007, followed by Surface, and now Xbox, with a focus on handheld input devices. His specialty is collaborating... Read More →

avatar for Richard Ellenson

Richard Ellenson

CEO, Cerebral Palsy Foundation
Richard Ellenson brings enormous vision and energy to the organization. He was the founder and CEO of two companies, Blink Twice and Panther, which helped transform and reimagine the field of assistive technology for people with disabilities. Prior to that, he was an advertising executive... Read More →
avatar for Erin Hawley

Erin Hawley

Web Content Producer, The Geeky Gimp
Hi, I’m Erin, the creator and editor of The Geeky Gimp. I’m disabled – Muscular Dystrophy, scoliosis, and anxiety/panic attacks. I’ve been disabled my entire life, so I’m used to the way my body works, its strengths, and its limitations. My biggest problem is the way society... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 2:00pm - 2:45pm
Starr Foundation


A Fireside Chat with Anastasia Staten and Michael D. Gallagher about the State of the Industry
As the industry grows so does the need for a diverse, talented workforce.  Join us to learn more about how non-profits and the video game industry are helping prepare the next generation of game makers.

avatar for Libe Ackerman

Libe Ackerman

Libe is a senior digital media and entertainment executive with extensive experience in social media, news reporting, technology, video games, and children's programming, across television, digital, and print.Her latest project is Super Parent (superparent.com), a digital media brand for modern parents raising the next generation of video gamers and technology fans, where she is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.Before that, she served as Senior Director, Creative Strategy at Nickelodeon, crafting the big-picture plan for how to talk... Read More →

avatar for Michael D. Gallagher

Michael D. Gallagher

President & CEO, ESA
Michael D. Gallagher is president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers.Mr. Gallagher joined ESA in 2007. Under his leadership, the association is transforming the perception of video gam... Read More →
avatar for Anastasia Staten

Anastasia Staten

Executive Director, ESA Foundation
Anastasia has nearly 20 years of experience spanning nonprofit management, fundraising, communications, and politics. She is currently serving as the Executive Director of the ESA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the video game industry and the Chair of The HALO Trust. Previously... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 2:30pm - 2:50pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Programming the Illinois Map: Fostering Empathy & Digital Literacy through Collaborative Game Design
If we want digital literacy to be universal and inclusive, shouldn't programming be taught everywhere? The Illinois Map is a virtual learning environment that makes it easy to teach programming in Language Arts and Social Studies classrooms. Conceived as "Wikipedia-meets-Minecraft," the Illinois Map takes a "narrative-based computational thinking" approach. It facilitates the collaborative authoring of text-based games, chatbots, and simulations arising from Illinois' diverse racial and cultural histories, while also promoting empathy through inclusive play.

avatar for Judith Pintar

Judith Pintar

Director of E-Lit & Literacies Lab, Illinois Informatics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Judith Pintar is a storyteller, sociologist, and game designer. She directs the Electronic Literatures & Literacies Lab (EL3) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which promotes programming literacy through the social sciences and humanities. She is the author of CosmoServe... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 3:45pm - 4:05pm
Room 104


Looking Back and Moving Forward - The Past Decade and Future of Social Impact Games
Attendees to this talk will leave with a better understanding of the history of games that have been making positive social impacts - particularly within the commercial and consumer market. There will be discussion of what considerations needs to be taken into account when developing such games, key philosophies that help set the game's course, and where the industry is heading within this important category. Alan's long history in gaming will allow for insightful and amusing anecdotes about what it's like going from making AAA blockbusters to AA and indie games that aim to make people stop and consider the world around them and their place within it.

avatar for Alan Gershenfeld

Alan Gershenfeld

President/Co-Founder, E-Line Media
Alan has spent the last twenty years at the intersection of entertainment, technology and social entrepreneurship. He is currently President and Co-Founder of E-Line Media, a developer and publisher of games that help players understand and shape the world. Alan has worked on impact... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 4:15pm - 4:35pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Panel - Supporting Underserved Communities Through Events
Events designed to support diverse game communities offer a chance to amplify new voices, support exciting new ideas, and encourage underrepresented creators. Join several event coordinators as they discuss how each of their events have served game creators from underrepresented communities in order to empower their attendees, strengthen the industry, and push toward a better future for games.

avatar for Carol Mertz

Carol Mertz

Executive Director, PixelPop Festival
Carol Mertz is an independent game designer, Executive Director of indie game conference PixelPop Festival, and MFA candidate at the NYU Game Center.

avatar for Shawn Allen

Shawn Allen

Artist. Writer. Game Designer. Activist. Critic. Speaker. Releasing Treachery in Beatdown City in 2018. Organizer Game Devs of Color Expo. Always support #blackgamedev.
avatar for Francesca Carletto-Leon

Francesca Carletto-Leon

Ambassador and Coordinator, Girls Make Games
Francesca is an independent game developer who has been working with Girls Make Games for 4 years as an ambassador and coordinator. She is a co-founder of Contigo Games, a small studio focused on creating cooperative multiplayer experiences to bring players together, and is currently... Read More →
avatar for EMiSpicer


Social Media Manager, Feminist Frequency
EMiSpicer is a 30-something good-for-nothing based out of NYC. She is best known for her work as a documentarian photographer, events organizer, and social media manager. She has been affiliated with groups such as Feminist Frequency, GameTheory, PlayDate, Babycastles, Different Games... Read More →
avatar for Alejandra Villanueva

Alejandra Villanueva

Student, New York University
Alejandra Villanueva is a rising senior at NYU who co-organized NYU’s Sex Positive Game Jam. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Digital Media with a minor in Game Engineering. She has been playing video games since she was kid and realized she wanted to create them... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 4:15pm - 5:00pm
Room 105


Keynote - Social Impact for all Stakeholders with Jeffrey Burrell
In this talk, Jeffrey will walk through Riot's structure for CSR and how they utilize systems thinking to deliver value across the spectrum of stakeholders. He'll share examples of various programs and design decisions to Riot uses to help deliver sustainable, long-term value for players and communities around the world.

avatar for Jeffrey Burrell

Jeffrey Burrell

Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Riot Games
Jeffrey is Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Riot Games and leads a team responsible for social impact, sustainability, and advocacy across the regions where Riot operates. Before joining Riot, Jeffrey was on the Finance and Strategy Team focusing on education technology... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 5:30pm - 6:00pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Keynote - Future Reality with Ken Perlin
We are about to enter the age of wearables. As this happens, we will experience a radical change in our very concept of reality, and in how we use technology to help us communicate. I will talk about the exciting opportunities ahead.

avatar for Ken Perlin

Ken Perlin

Professor of Computer Science, New York University
Ken Perlin is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at NYU, where he directs the Future Reality Lab. Research interests include future reality, graphics and animation, user interfaces and education. He is chief scientist at Tactonic Technologies and Holojam Inc, and is... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 6:00pm - 6:30pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium