Affordance Rocked Out at G4C! Before we being the short summary of this great event, here’s a few questions for you:
Do you like video games?
Do you like helping people?
Do you like overly air conditioned rooms in New York City where you can learn more about video games that help people?
If you answered yes to these three questions, then let me tell you you would have loved the Games for Change (G4C) event at the Parsons School of Design in NYC this past June!
G4C is one of the biggest if not the biggest serious game conferences in the world. All of the biggest studios attend, including Schell Games, 1st Playable, Playmatics and Filament Games.
And some of the biggest game designer stars also came like Sid Meier, the creator of Civilization, and Jesse Schell, the guy who blew many people’s minds with his DICE 2010 talk.
I represented Affordance at the G4C conference this year and this is a little taste of what I saw.
The first thing that I did when I got to the conference was to head over to the game arcade to see what new products are coming down the pike. And I saw a doozy right off the bat: Soundself. Soundself is a meditation “game” where users can interact through a VR headset with visualizations that change in response to the user’s own voice. Let me be clear. It was the most different experience I’ve had as of recently. Don’t be fooled by the mention of an acid trip in this youtube video here. It is deep and fulfilling experience. I recommend anyone with an Oculus Rift to check it out.
After that, I went to hear Ed Metz from the Department of Education lead a discussion with five grantees from the SBIR program which funds educational game projects for up to $1 million. SBIR, which stands for Small Business Innovation Research Program, has funded some of the most interesting games out today including Reach for the Sun by Filament Games. In this talk, grantees got into the nitty gritty about making, selling and distributing games into schools. For example, Victoria Van Voorhis, a total studette in our field, gave out a great piece of advice to designers: “Include teachers in every step of the design process. Make them a part of the game.” I’m learning, master Yoda-ette!
I also got to hear Jesse Schell talk about virtual reality in classrooms. Some of his predictions might be far off, but one is not – his company just received a $1 million grant to make a VR chemistry lab! In this lab, students can mix up different compounds, watch their chemicals react, blow stuff up and even burn themselves! Except that no one actually gets hurt and schools don’t have to spend crazy money setting up chemistry lab. Safer and cheaper … I think this idea is going somewhere! 🙂
All in all, G4C is a great event for anyone who wants to see how games can rise above pure entertainment. I met a ton of amazing people like Nick Fortugno, the COO from Playmatics, who taught me how to make win-win deals with distributors. I discovered Brandon Pittser’s cool podcast for Filament Games all about making and selling educational games. You can check out the podcast here. I got to try out a VR game for an elliptical workout machine by Blue Goji. And I played a business analytic games with Wrainbo’s MagiTech that has been sold into multiple Fortune 500 companies.
This was an awesome event that we’ll be sure to attend next year!