Each year a panel of judges (including myself) for the festival, dedicated to examining the various ways games can be used to promote and empower change, select a handful of finalists which they believe exemplifies the core tenants of the festival and games for change.
This year, nine finalists were selected for the following categories: Most Innovative, Best Gameplay, and new to this year’s awards, Best Learning Game. All nominees will be considered for the top honor, Game of the Year, which is awarded to the game that best exemplifies all categories.
Here's the full list of finalists:
Block'hood, nominated for BEST GAMEPLAY
Block'hood is a neighborhood-building sandbox game that presents an ecological take on city planning. Celebrating the diversity of cities, the game invites players into a narrative that builds an understanding of resource dependencies and empathy for the neighborhoods we live in.
DragonBox Numbers, nominated for BEST LEARNING GAME
DragonBox Numbers gives children who are at the outset of their math education the foundation they need in order to succeed: a strong sense of numbers and fluency with addition and counting.
Life is Strange, nominated for BEST GAMEPLAY, MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT, and MOST INNOVATIVE
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. The game handles identity, bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, love, friendship and everyday dilemmas alongside moments of adventure.
Lumino City (iOS), nominated for MOST INNOVATIVE
Lumino City (iOS) is a game crafted entirely by hand out of paper, card, miniature lights, and motors – resulting in the construction of a 10 foot high model city. In this setting weaves an enthralling adventure. Lumi's grandfather has been kidnapped, and to find him you must embrace sustainable living practices and navigate the mechanisms that power this world.
Mission US: City of Immigrants, nominated for BEST LEARNING GAME
Mission US: City of Immigrants is the 4th in a series of free digital role-playing games made to immerse students in U.S. history. Players assume the role of a Russian Jewish teen who immigrates to NYC in 1907 and joins the growing labor movement.
NOVA’s Evolution Lab, nominated for BEST LEARNING GAME
NOVA’s Evolution Lab is a puzzle game and interactive tree of life that challenges players to build phylogenetic trees, complete missions based off of the evidence for evolution, and explore the connections between over 70,000 species.
Legião dos Super Poderes, nominated for MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
Legião dos Super Poderes 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-game, evolving their heroes and defeating all enemies.
That Dragon, Cancer, nominated for BEST GAMEPLAY and MOST INNOVATIVE
That Dragon, Cancer is an immersive, narrative video game that retells Joel Green’s four year fight against cancer through about two hours of poetic, imaginative gameplay that explores themes of faith, hope and love.
Syrian Journey, nominated for MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
Syrian Journey is a digital project that explores the plight of the Syrian refugees. By choosing their own escape route in a newsgame, the audience takes their own personal dramatic and heart-wrenching journey to face dilemmas based on real-life stories.
"We are thrilled to announce this year’s Games for Change Award finalists, giving recognition to the games that were created to make a difference in the world," said Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change. "As you can see, the diverse array of categories and finalists demonstrates the many ways that games can have impact on society beyond entertainment."
This year's Games for Change Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 23 and June 24 at the Parsons School of Design.