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Brandon  Bozzi  - EmMeCon Seattle 2013
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  • I’m BrandonBozziI’m here to tell you about some of the ways games are making the world a better place.
  • First a bit about who I am.Over a decade of experience in the games industry.Game designer and a game producer.My job has been to imagine experiences that will entertain people and figure out how to build them.On tabletop, social, and mobile games.
  • I’ve spent the last year on how to use what I’ve learned in the industry to create games that not only bring joy to people but also give back to the world in some way.Game It Forward is the company I created to serve that goal.Over the summer we held a summit that brought together some of top game designers in the industry and nonprofits to design a world changing game.Since then I have been working to make that game a reality.But more on that later.
  • Why are games a powerful tool for social change?Games excel at activating people in the ways that charitable organizations strive toGames are great at building communities – the biggest games have huge communities of people passionately competition and cooperating with each other. Forming real, meaningful relationships or building existing ones.Game are great at engaging people - the latest crop of social and mobile games do a great job of getting people to take repetitive action over a long period of time. There’s a bit of a dark cloud over that side of the industry, but I think we can learn from their techniques and apply them altruistically.Games are great at getting people to believe they can achieve goals much bigger than themselves. Being the hero. Saving the world. What if the virtual was real instead.Charities want those same things from people. They want communities to form around their causes, they want to keep people engaged and committed over the long haul, and they want people to believe they can change the world.
  • Not only are they good at it.But everyone is playing games.We spend $60 billion a YEAR on games,and play 3 billion hours a WEEK worldwide
  • Despite all the potential games have to do goodFew game studios are getting it right IMO.The number one issue I have with most of these games is that they don’t put fun first.If the game isn’t engaging in the first seconds of play people aren’t going to stick around to hear your message.If the message isn’t seamlessly weaved into the gameplay it’s going to feel ham fisted.These are hard things to get right, but here are some examples of games that are coming really close to nailing it.
  • Games that leverage their interactive nature to put the player into someone else’s shoes.
  • Help people understand more what it’s like to be homeless or nearly homelessSingle parent, $1000, no job, no place to live. Can you make it through the month?Choose your own adventure style game with tough decisions at every turn. Health care v. rent. Schooling v. food.Nicely weaves in real-world information. Often when you make a choice you get relevant real world info. Over one million plays, $45,000 in donations.Credit Card companies have used this game to help their employees gain empathy for the people they’re calling about late payments.
  • Uses dark comedy to tackle the serious issue that some of our clothing is created in horrible conditions. Puts player in the role of a sweatshop manager. Put between the pressure from upper management and the needs of the work force.Might not be considered politically correct. South Parkesque. But IMO it nicely balances the darkly comedic game world with the real world issues.Uses a popular game type (tower-defense) well, so it’s attractive to game players theme aside.Over 1 million plays within 3 months of launch
  • Games that are taking advantage of the growing trends of citizen science and crowd sourcing - “play sourcing”.Project that, generally using the internet, get a large group of people to work on a problem together.
  • Helping scientists understand how RNA foldsBetter understanding RNA helps us understand better how viruses like HIV workCurrent computer models are weakTo improve them scientists have theories which they check through experimentation. Then use the results to improve the computer models.Eterna accelerates that process through play sourcing the problem – putting 10,000+ people on the job.Four icons (building blocks of RNA) attract each other like magnets at varying strengths.Game is about arranging them into patterns so they pull themselves into viable, useful shapes.Top voted designs are synthesized in a Stanford biochemistry lab.
  • Goal of the game is to map the neurons in the retinaTo help determine how vision works.We have the complete mapbutComputers are bad at distinguishing one neuron from another.Luckily people are pretty good at it.The task involves visualizing how a 3 dimensional structure looks in layers of 2D.Players color in sections of one contiguous neuron.And over time you get a neural map like this.
  • Over time player input is used to improve the AI.
  • Some of my favorites.Games, that just by playing them, help heal a mental or physical illness you’re suffering from.
  • Fantasy RPG style game designed for treating kids with depression.Young people learn techniques for dealing with: negative thoughts, problem-solving, and relaxation.Fighting gnats that attack players with negative thoughts “You’re a loser”. Players turn these creatures into Sparx which generate positive thoughts.The game performs better than traditional treatment. About 44 percent achieved remission in the SPARX group compared to 26 percent in usual care.Around 80 percent of young people with depression never get treatment.The hope is that having a tool like this will encourage more kids to get treatment.
  • And the new Re-Mission 2Helpscancer patients for their disease.In the originalPlayers control Roxxi the nanobot as she travels through the body attacking cancer cells.Shooter-style game. Slick graphics and sound. Players fly and surf through the body blasting different kinds of cancer cells.In each mission, players help rid different fictional cancers patients of a different kinds cancer.It’s tough to get kids to take their meds. Especially when those meds have nasty side effects.Playing Re-Mission boosted patience’s knowledge of cancer and cancer meds, and belief that they had power to affect theirrecovery Which ultimately significantly boosted their adherence to prescribed chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments.And greater adherence to treatment means greater survival rates.
  • Games that generate money for people in need.The game I’m currently working on is one of these games.But first I want to tell you about a couple others.
  • Guess the meaning of the word correctly – donate ten grains of rice to help end hunger.Secondary benefit of educating players.Questions scale in difficulty as you get them right/wrong.Love the visual of the bowl filling up with riceRice is paid for by sponsors.1.2 million users per monthDonated over a billion grains of rice, feeding millions of people since the game launched in 2007.
  • City building game in the style of Zynga’sCityville or SimCity games.Build buildings -> buildings produce coins -> Use coins to build more buildingsUnlock more buildings with happiness and experienceIn addition to generating virtual currency to build your city your city also makes Joy which you can donate to charity partners.Endorsed by big celebs like: Bieber and EllenSupported by big brands like: JCPenny and MattelDoing tremendous good:700,000 hot meals to kids in need1 million days of school to kids7 million liters of clean water to people in HaitiAnd on and on….
  • Spring boarding off of games like Free Rice and Wetopia Game It Forward is building TringoChoose a charity From a breath of charitiesMicroprojects
  • Tringo = trivia meets bingo. Two popular game types on the mobile platform. Trivia question and a Bingo grid of answersMultiple correct answers. Answers for all skill levels.Power-ups do things like give players extra time, eliminate some of the wrong answers, etc.
  • Final scorePoints for correct answers and for bingosSee how much you contributed to the charity and how you stack up against your friendsSponsored rewardFirst of a platform of gamesFunding and talent to take it to the next step
  • Thanks for letting me share what I’m passionate about.I hope that I’ve given you a different perspective on gamesAnd showed you that they have real potential to make a difference in the worldIf you want to talk to me directly feel free to grab me after this or email me.Time for Q&A

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