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Games for Change Australia New Zealand

Grace Yew

Thu Nov 15 2012

Games for Change Australia New Zealand

MELBOURNE is shaping up to be the video game capital of Australia. First the ACMI Game Masters Exhibition, now the Games for Change Australia New Zealand Festival 2012 – an event exploring gaming solutions for social, humanitarian, and business problems.  Grace Yew has the details.

This week, Melbourne’s gaming aficionados will see RMIT University host the very first Australian Games for Change Festival.

Games for Change, a non-profit organisation, collaborates with communities to showcase digital games that create a positive social impact and provide solutions to contemporary issues.

Its 2012 outing in Melbourne marks the festival’s first return to the Asia-Pacific region since its 2004 launch in New York.

The event will be held at RMIT University’s Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (the GEElab), and is supported by the City of Melbourne.

The festival will feature 35 renowned local and international speakers, and unite policymakers, education and healthcare practitioners, and upcoming game designers.

Event attendees will be given the opportunity to collaborate and explore gaming solutions to social, humanitarian, and business issues.

According to a survey commissioned by Games for Change’s ANZ branch, many Australians believe in the power of games to revolutionise prevailing sentiments about controversial topics such as workplace discrimination, homelessness, and asylum seekers.

The research indicates that Australians associate gaming with positive benefits for the community. The benefits range from improved intelligence and supplemental education to workplace engagement and active, healthy lifestyles.

Many Australians would happily pick up a controller themselves, but most of the population still believes games lead to negative outcomes such as obesity, lowered concentration, and antisocial behaviour.

Marigo Raftopoulos, the festival’s Executive Producer and Co-Lead Curator, is no stranger to these differing views.

“There’s a great debate around the effects of gaming on our community,” she said.

“It is good to see, however, that Australians are acknowledging digital games, game thinking and play as a contributor to good social outcomes in a range of areas, from education to health, business and the community.”

The Games for Change Festival will be held at the RMIT Design Hub, Building 100, Swanston Street from November 15 to 16. For more details or to register attendance, visit the Games for Change Festival website.