If you are tuned into the educational games community, you probably know that last week was the 11th annual Games For Change (G4C) Festival in New York City. This awesome conference featured influential thinkers leading important discussions on games-based learning (GBL), gaming culture, technological advancements, and the impact of video games on real-life problems.
1. Games for Thinking
— Games and Learning (@Games_Learning) April 23, 2014
University of Washington Professor Zoran Popović developed a game called Foldit, which allowed non-scientists to help with an incredible scientific discovery. In his panel, Popović examined current successes and failings of video games as change-makers in science today. How do we get large groups of people to work together to solve a problem? How do we design an experience that is as productive as possible for scientific research in games? In this picture, he discusses the environment necessary for a game to make an impact.
2. Games for Learning
— Games for Change (@G4C) April 24, 2014
Gregg Behr, executive director of The Grable Foundation, was joined on stage by Dr. Michael Levine, Drew Davidson, Cathy Lewis Long, and Michelle King to discuss the reinvention of learning in public education. These experts believe that, like Mr. Rogers, who was able to use television to create a healthy learning environment, educators today need to take advantage of gaming to create hands-on educational experiences. Their talk highlighted some of the awesome progress that is already being made in classrooms, workshops, studios, and festivals, specifically across Pittsburgh. You can watch the talk here.
3. Games for Equality
Wow, 50% of the speakers at Games for Change are women. Take that, every other tech/gaming conference. #G4C14
— Chelsea Stark (@chelseabot) April 24, 2014
Well, would you look at that! Sure enough, G4C is practicing what it preaches, and women have been given a strong voice at this year’s festival. This year, the panel Gender Inequality in Games: Beyond the Grim Statistics highlighted some important strategies to repair some of the broken systems currently in place within the gaming world. They used the hashtag #Gender4G4C to take questions from the audience.
4. Games for Reaching Goals
— Precious Yamaguchi (@Precious_Tea) April 23, 2014
The fascinating Professor Dan Ariely hosted a panel all about goals, specifically long-term versus short-term goals. The takeaway: humans do not have much self-control. When given the choice between a healthy future and a happy present, people almost always choose a happy present. Case in point: climate change. Luckily, games have the ability to engage us in the present and simultaneously help us work towards long-term learning goals for the future.
5. Games for Happiness
— Peggy Sheehy (@PeggySheehy) April 24, 2014
As innovative educator Peggy Sheehy reminds us, the best kind of learning is learning that’s fun. A world where kids can’t wait to get started on their math homework is almost unimaginable now, but in 10 years? Who knows? Games are changing everything, and definitely for the better.
What were some of your favorite moments from Games for Change 2014? Let us know in the comments!