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GDC 2012 details first-ever Games for Change @ GDC Summit

Today, Game Developers Conference 2012 show organizers have chosen to detail the brand-new Games for Change @ GDC Summit, which features talks with Eidos life president Ian Livingstone, Sojo Studios on its charity-focused WeTopia, a panel of designers on how games can explore love as a thematic focus, and more.

This new Summit, scheduled for Tuesday, March 6th, and organized in partnership with the non-profit group Games for Change, will examine how video games can serve as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts.

In addition, the Summit gives funders, NGOs, government agencies, and educators a chance to meet and collaborate with some of the leading developers from the independent and commercial sector to further the development of games that promote social good.

Those interested in checking out the notable content within Games for Change @ GDC can do so by registering for an All Access for Summits & Tutorials pass on the official GDC website passes page.

The following are some of the major talks on offer at Games for Change @ GDC:

- In "From Dungeons to Downing Street - How Games are Growing Up for Good!," Games Workshop co-founder and Eidos life president Ian Livingstone will outline how video games can help players learn about solving puzzles, making decisions, and more. He will also discuss his efforts to demonstrate the positive elements of video games, and improve the perception of the industry within the UK government.

- Elsewhere, Sojo Studios founder and CEO Lincoln Brown will detail WeTopia, a recent social game that donates much of its profits to charitable organizations around the world. The talk, "WeTopia: Game Companies & Nonprofits Creating New Business Models," will examine the game's hybrid business model and its numerous relationships with private investment partners and non-profit charity groups.

- In the panel, "How Designing for Love Can Change the World," six notable game designers will explore how video games can explore love as a primary thematic element. Within this session, speakers such as Social Chocolate's Jane McGonigal and Chelsea Howe, Zoonami's Martin Hollis, Heart Shaped Games' Scott Brodie, The Tiniest Shark's Mitu Khandaker, and Namco Bandai's Michael Molinari will work with UC Santa Cruz's Jane Pinckard to explore how game mechanics can revolve around love and affection, how these games can affect a player's emotions, and more.

- According to Jan L. Plass from NYU's Games for Learning Institute, even the most educational-focused video games need finely-tuned mechanics to capture a player's attention. In his talk, "AAA Game Mechanics Inspiring Learning and Assessment Mechanics," he will consider what educational games can learn from blockbuster, AAA releases, and will showcase some strategies for designing game mechanics based on the learning sciences.

- Finally, Games for Change @ GDC will host the jam-packed session, "From Milan to Abu Dhabi: Microtalks for Change," which includes numerous speakers detailing how their games benefitted regions around the world. The session will be moderated by Playmatics' Nick Fortungo, and speakers will include Colleen Macklin (Parsons New School of Design), David Mariner (Fun Rigger), Mathias Crawford (Natron Baxter Applied Gaming), Rob Davis (Playniac), and John Murphy (ChicagoQuest Schools).

In addition to the above sessions, Games for Change @ GDC's full session list will also feature a talk on Zynga New York's partnership with Knight Foundation, a presentation from Preloaded's Phil Stuart on designing games with a purpose, and a series of case studies on several games promoting behavioral change.

"At Games for Change @ GDC, we're excited to see more partnerships between the traditional 'Games for Change' crowd to commercial companies, whether it's the Knight Foundation and Zynga New York or the newly formed Sojo Studios working with a network of NGO's around the world," said Games for Change co-founder Asi Burak. "We also have a lot of design talks -- from the series of indie talks about love as a core mechanic, to understanding what works when you try to change players' behavior.

"This kind of discussion is pioneering in our space, and perhaps in gaming at large. And we're also happy to have Ian Livingstone, one of the legends of the industry (founder of Eidos), who is dedicating his current career to 'giving back,' by working with the UK Government and with the UK gaming industry on enabling social change and learning on a large scale."

For more information on these or any other sessions at GDC 2012, please check out the event's official Schedule Builder, which shows the current, growing lineup for the show so far.

Also be sure to keep an eye on the official GDC news blog, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS. GDC 2012 will take place March 5 through March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.




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