This past June, the Entertainment Software Association sponsored and participated in the sixteenth annual Games for Change Festival in New York City. The gathering featured developers, creators, researchers, technologists, educators, policy makers, non-profits, and more. Together, participants and speakers explored how to leverage video games for social good.
While at the festival, we had the opportunity to sit in on panels, speak with attendees, interview speakers, and more.
“Playing is fundamentally valuable. It helps us experiment, it helps us escape, it helps us think more critically about problems that we may not have thought of before,” explained Lindsay Grace. Grace, the Knight Chair in Interactive Media at University of Miami and VP of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, later won the Games for Change Festival’s 2019 Vanguard Award.
In addition, during an exclusive fireside chat, the ESA’s very own Stanley-Pierre Louis sat down with Ubisoft Canada CEO Yannis Mallat to discuss issues like diversity and education in the video game industry. Pierre-Louis also presented the Game of the Year award, which was given to Nintendo for their Nintendo Labo release.
The festival also featured an “XR for Change” summit focused on virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology. Creative applications included using XR to tell queer love stories, interact with extinct birds, reduce anxiety, and even decrease rates of alcohol addiction relapse.
Throughout the three days, speakers highlighted the limitless potential of video games and video game technology.
“I think right now it’s a fascinating moment to be at the intersection of what it means to use games to do something that makes peoples’ lives better,” said Matt Dalio, Founder and Chairman of Endless.
Video games moved beyond their roots as pure entertainment vehicles long ago. In every space, creative thinkers are discovering groundbreaking applications for video games in education, healthcare, philanthropy, and beyond.
Weren’t able to attend? Make sure to check out our festival highlights video (above).