By Games for Change
Every year, the Games for Change Festival celebrates the most impactful digital games that touch on social issues and aim to inspire their audiences to action. As video game’s audience increases—with gamers in 60 percent of American homes, according to the Entertainment Software Association—so does their potential to impact even more lives.
Narrowed down from a field of over 150 submissions, these three games have been nominated for the Most Significant Impact category of the Games for Change Awards for the incredible ways they inspire us to rethink our approach to obstacles in everyday life and empathizing with far-away strangers caught up in overwhelmingly large struggles.
Read about the nominees below, and meet developers and leaders of projects like these at the Games for Change Festival. Media Impact Funders members receive a special discount of $75 off passes with the code mif20. Register now before late registration begins next week!
“Super Powers Legion” (Legião dos Super Poderes)
Developer: PushStart Studio / Platform: Web
“Super Powers Legion” is a game designed to change kids’ habits by mixing the real and virtual worlds. Children have to eat healthier and practice physical activities to gain superpowers in an online game, evolving their heroes and defeating all enemies.
The game offers eight superpowers, which are all tied to the nutritional benefits of more than 85 different kinds of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.
On the game’s website, kids can check their scores (and compare their progress to their classmates’), customize their avatars, discover where and when the next mission takes place, collect badges and play online games. Online fun only happens if the real-world tasks are completed.
Every child who enters the game receives a super bracelet, which allows the game to send data to smartphones and links the real and virtual worlds together. Every time kids accomplish a real mission, like tasting new vegetables, they can gain points in the online game through an app that reads the bracelet. Parents, and the community at large, have a major role in facilitating this process and using the app to score the food and exercise that children practice at home.
A beta version of the game was launched in São José do Rio Pardo, Brazil, with amazing results. Ibope/Nielsen conducted a two-stage survey before and after four months of game happening in the city. The results have shown a large decrease in sedentary lifestyle and an increase in the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. The game had indirect consequences like some kids have lost weight, decreased depression, kids began to cook and became closer to their parents. In some cases, schools have changed their menu and local commerce has given more emphasis to natural foods.
“Life is Strange”
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
“Life is Strange” is a five-part episodic experience that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present and future. “Life is Strange” is one of those games with people, places and events that almost all of us can relate to, and as such the game has affected a wide community of people. Players take on the role of Max, an 18-year-old student studying photography at Blackwell Academy who saves her old friend Chloe by discovering she can rewind time. The pair soon find themselves exposed to the darker side of life as they uncover the disturbing truth behind the sudden disappearance of a fellow student.
The game handles identity, bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, love, friendship and everyday dilemmas alongside moments of adventure. It’s worth noting that none of these issues was used to promote or market the game.
The game’s fans have reacted to the content very positively, with many facing some form of these issues on a daily basis and in order to spotlight some of these things we even ran a campaign in collaboration with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center called #EverydayHeroes. Fans were invited to tell their story about how they overcame adversity, stood up for what they thought was right, or helped a friend in need by sharing their #EverydayHeroesMoments on social media. Every post using the hashtag #EverydayHeroes increased our donation to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. In one week, $25,000 was raised and donated to PACER.
In addition to making sure all issues in the game were handled well, the “Life is Strange” team also created a talk page for players to seek out whatever help they may need. The page has been visited more than 11,000 times.
Developer: BBC / Platform: Web
“Syrian Journey” is digital project that explores the plight of Syrian refugees. By choosing their own escape route in this game, the audience takes their own personal dramatic and heart-wrenching journey to face dilemmas based on real-life stories. Based on extensive research of real-life stories, the narrative communicates a clear and emotional journey experience and strikes a chord with the player.
At a time when the refugee stories were under-reported and when the interest in the Syrian crisis was low, “Syrian Journey” was a new angle on a familiar topic. It asks the player to engage and interact through a series of multimedia and interactive stories on the theme of Syrian refugee journeys.
“Syrian Journey” sparked a national debate in the U.K. media. The Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Independent, and the Sun all pitched in to the argument about interactivity and digital storytelling. The quality of this interactive project is primarily based in increasing its accessibility to as many people as possible. Produced in six languages and responsive for almost all mobiles and devices, this project reached a far audience. Based on extensive research of real-life stories, the narrative communicates an emotional journey experience and clearly lies out the dilemmas as you make the journey to Europe.
BBC Arabic’s “Syrian Journey” received over 3.1 million website hits across the project in English alone. The project took off on social media, with the most popular animation receiving over 1.6 million views on Facebook—the highest number of hits ever recorded on BBC Arabic’s Facebook page.
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