Since 2004, Games for Change (G4C) has brought together innovators from around the world to design social impact video games. Based in New York City, G4C is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the next generation of game developers create positive change through digital media.
This past April, G4C, the Stephens Initiative, the Aspen Institute and the US Department of State banded together to launch a virtual student exchange program known as Game Exchange. Over the next two years, this initiative will draw nearly 3,000 underserved students from the United States (US), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Israel to develop video games focused on important global causes.
This new UAE-US partnership speaks volumes to the recent signing of the Abraham Accords, facilitated by Ambassador Al Otaiba last September. As the Middle East embarks on a new era of peace and prosperity, the program will undoubtedly help to forge a deeper connection between the youth in the US and the larger MENA region.
So far, the following organizations from both the US and the Middle East have partnered with the program:
- Atlanta Public Schools (APS)
- Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD)
- New York City Department of Education
- Ministry of Youth and Sports in Bahrain
- Beit Berl College in Israel
- Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel
- Twofour54 in Abu Dhabi
The 2021 Game Exchange initially pairs students together in virtual ‘game studios,’ where G4C experts help them to design, code and develop two separate projects focused on sustainable development. As competitors progress, each round offers them expert training in G4C’s game design curriculum, along with student game jams and arcades, peer-mentoring opportunities and an exclusive alumni community.
Through these activities, Game Exchange aims to promote creative dialogue, along with modern day skills such as STEAM learning, problem solving and global citizenship. After each school year, students then submit their projects to a designated game design competition for a chance to win a variety of different awards, scholarships and industry-related prizes.
In support of this new venture, Games for Change President Susanna Pollack released the following statement: “We’ve been teaching young people how to make social impact games for the past six years. What’s new about this program is that we are now for the first time going to add to that learning opportunity and actually have young people from these different countries come together and collaborate on making games around social impact issues. So, it’s a great opportunity to build on what we know is an effective tool for learning and create this cross-cultural collaborative process that brings these students together.”
Outside of Game Exchange, G4C facilitates a multitude of global gaming experiences including a national student challenge and the annual Games for Change Festival. To learn more about the nonprofit’s latest endeavors, visit www.gamesforchange.org.