The following is a conversation between Susanna Pollack, the President of Games for Change, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change

Denver: Gaming reaches close to 3 billion people worldwide. An organization that promotes the use of games and immersive media to drive social impact is Games for Change. Now, how good an idea is that? And here to talk about this work, as well as the upcoming Games for Change Festival, is Susanna Pollack, the President of Games for Change.

Welcome back to The Business of Giving, Susanna!

Susanna: Thank you for having me.

Denver: The organization’s been around since 2004. Share with us some of the history of Games for Change and the role it plays in the gaming ecosystem. 

Susanna: Well, as you said, we started the organization in 2004 and really had grown into being the leading advocate for the use of games as drivers of social impact. So, we play this role where we’re a not-for-profit, but we sit in between commercial games — from independent game studios to AAA game studios — as well as the not-for-profit sector and NGOs and foundations that are using games to drive impact. But also in our ecosystem are educators who are using games in the classroom, neuroscientists that are using games to help with cognitive rehabilitation. So, we’re really the nexus of all that activity and have been building a community of practice.

Denver: What are the benefits of a cross-sector community like that? That sounds like a lot of people are envious of just what you said because they’re all saying: you have to bring all these diverse stakeholders to the table. You’ve been able to do that. 

What kind of product or outcome do you get at the other end when you have policymakers and government officials and academia and researchers and NGOs, and not to mention the whole gaming community and developers and folks like that?

Susanna: Well, I have to tell you it’s really rewarding to see this community grow. We have a platform, our Games for Change Festival that we are going to be running  July 12-14 online… and free this year. But traditionally, it was a physical event that took place in New York City, and we’re going to be running our 18th one. We’ve been doing it for a while.

And what I really like about that event is that it really helps foster collaborations. You have interested parties from different sectors coming together to be inspired and learn about how they can work together and how games can be used to achieve their goals. So, I just love the fact that there are people meeting and convening. That they are understanding what can be achieved; they’re establishing partnerships that can then result with games…. games that can be used and applied in so many different settings. 

But then you also see more broad movements, and I’d say real sectors that are embracing the potential of games, like the US government and like organizations or agencies, like the State Department that has literally embraced games for diplomacy and are investing in products and programs that are leveraging this very powerful medium to achieve their goals of diplomacy around the world. 

Games have this unique feature – it’s an interactive medium. And so, players, rather than sitting back and watching a documentary on their television where they literally are passive… in a game, you are very active, and you are given agency to change the outcome of that experience.

Denver: Fantastic. Let’s talk about this very powerful medium. What makes games uniquely qualified to spark change in the world and the community around us?

Susanna: Well, first, games are a form of media, and like other forms of media, they can be used to help convey information, to teach, to raise awareness around issues.  Think about a public service announcement on television or on radio. 

But games have this unique feature – it’s an interactive medium. And so, players, rather than sitting back and watching a documentary on their television where they literally are passive, they’re passively watching information… in a game, you are very active and you are given agency to change the outcome of that experience. And that kind of relationship with content, I think is a very powerful one that sparks interest and engagement and understanding around the content that’s trying to be put forward in a different way than traditional media.

Denver: You mentioned a moment ago, Susanna, neuroscience. Can games actually change the wiring of our brain?

Susanna: Oh, absolutely. We’re seeing research coming out of labs at universities around the world. In particular, the University of California in San Francisco has a lab called Neuroscape. It’s run by Dr. Adam Gazzaley and he’s been running clinical trials for years on how games can be effective in treating cognitive illnesses like ADHD and Alzheimer’s. 

And in fact, their game called EndeavorRx was approved this past year by the Food and Drug Administration to be prescribed by physicians as alternatives to traditional medicine treatments. And that’s just a remarkable, I think, moment for this idea of Digital Therapy as a real thing. 

Denver: Or digital medicine. He’s been working on that for a while. And I just wonder if having had that breakthrough with FDA, if it will open up the floodgates to other opportunities. Because that first one is always a tough one, but once they’ve done it, you just wonder if they’ll look at other things more favorably… or a little bit more quickly, I should say, in moving forward.

Susanna: Yes, but also, like other forms of medicine, these products have to go through clinical trials to prove their efficacy. And in the gaming space, and VR, by the way… I think virtual reality also is proving to be very effective in this. The scientists have been doing three, four years, five years of research, and we’re now coming to see the fruits of that labor and the efficacy in being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of this treatment. And that’s why I think we’re going to see the acceleration of adoption. 

Denver: Another one I saw was SnowWorld from the University of Washington; tell us about that.

Susanna: SnowWorld is a really- well, one, I think it’s like a fun treatment… and not that our EndeavorRX isn’t, but I just love the idea. 

So, the University of Washington built a VR, virtual reality game that was intended to treat burn victims. In this case, burn victims who are veterans, who are from conflict. The patients are put into this immersive world which is reflective of a cold environment in the Arctic, in which they are tasked with throwing snowballs, engaging with penguins, while listening to Paul Simon music. That in itself sounds incredibly fun and relaxing. But what the research has demonstrated is that these patients experienced 50% less pain while undergoing rehabilitation treatment. Really, really effective.

Denver: And that’s less pain medication, too. So, there’s wows all across the board with that one. 

Susanna: Absolutely. That was exciting.

Denver: What have the impact studies shown? We’re talking about change. Are there any studies/research that show the impact that games have had in terms of changing people’s perception or their behavior or anything along those lines?

Susanna: Well, it’s interesting when you talk about impact assessments. There are different assessment models for different impact goals. And I think this goes across any kind of philanthropic endeavor or non-for-profit endeavor. 

So, an assessment goal for education, for example, of games being used in the classroom– that’s demonstrating comprehension and what information is being learned by the students. And that’s very different than raising awareness around a global issue like climate change and changing people’s attitudes. So, there is a lot of research out there that demonstrates the effectiveness of games, but it really just depends on what your impact goals are. 

I can say in the education sector, games like iCivics, studio-created by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, where it’s games about civic education, those games are being adopted. I think they’re in over 50% of schools, middle schools around the country. And research is demonstrating that kind of engagement and learning about civic education is really powerful. 

Denver: We’ve had Louise Dubé on the show a couple of times and she is just fabulous. I love her.

Susanna: She is terrific, terrific. And Minecraft, too. Minecraft Education, the educational version of the popular game Minecraft, is also demonstrating the engagement levels that students had in the classroom when going through curriculum that’s designed within the Minecraft environment. 

Denver: How has the technology advanced – the VR, the AR, the XR – to make the experience of games even more impactful? This is something I know so little about, so I turn to you. And maybe you can dumb it down a little bit for me to tell me – How is it advancing? 

Susanna: Well, this technology is advancing so quickly. I think probably the biggest change, or promising change, has been the release of the Oculus Quest 2.

So, for those of you and your audience who have tried virtual reality in the past, typically it’s called tethered. You’ve got a wire coming out of your device. It has to go into a high-powered computer. And that in itself is limiting. You have to have the right computer at home in order to be able to charge it, power it, and then you have the cord, which is limiting in itself. 

So, the Oculus Quest 2, is a headset that has no cords. It completely powers the experience within the device itself, which means that more people can access it. That’s number one that  I think is going to change how VR is used in a more impactful way. 

Denver: Interesting.

Susanna: But from the content perspective, again, thinking about it from different impact goals – let’s say the goal of raising awareness around an issue, or developing empathy for people around the world – to immerse yourself in experience where you can be a first person or a third person. You can walk next to a child at a refugee camp and experience what their lives are like in a way that you never would be able to fully… again, in a traditional documentary,  it gives you that perspective and that relationship, a different relationship with the person and the experience that they’re having. 

Similarly, with neuroscience and other therapeutic approaches, we’re seeing uses of virtual reality in helping with PTSD, with managing anxiety, depression, relaxation, and wellness, for sure. And again, these treatments, many of them are being led by scientific labs with the rigor that other forms of approved therapies would have.

Denver: And while you were talking about Oculus there, Susanna, I just think about how distracted I am and I have so many things that are going on. This is immersive. Very rarely do we have 100% of our attention, with nothing else vying for it in an experience like that. And that’s going to have a deeper impact. No question about it.

Susanna: Absolutely. There’s the immersive experience that allows you to fully concentrate on what’s in your environment. But then there’s also augmented reality, which changes the perspective, which is also having significant impact in areas like training. 

Medical doctors using virtual reality or augmented reality when they’re learning how to perform surgeries. Difficult tasks that require an understanding of your space around you, whether it’s factory use, whether it’s fixing technology or equipment that might be high risk, but being able to do that in an augmented reality environment allows people to access training in a safe and effective way. 

Denver: As you know, our audience is primarily nonprofit, senior executives, and other areas in those organizations. You mentioned iCivics. Who are some of the other nonprofits you’re working with now? 

Susanna: Well we started a wonderful relationship with the Nobel Peace Center.

Denver: Oh really, I didn’t know that.

Susanna: Yes, yes. Well, we are working with them to develop a series of games that promote the values of the Nobel Peace Prize and build awareness around the laureates. And they were interested in connecting with young people beyond the museum. 

So, the Nobel Peace Center actually has a physical museum in Oslo. They have a lot of traffic and visitors from around the world coming into the museum. But they want to be able to reach more people and games as a ubiquitous form of entertainment. Meaning that it’s in, I’ll get the stats in a second, but something like 90% of young people’s hands to create a game that does– that allows them to have that kind of reach. And that’s what we are going to be developing together. 

Denver: Fantastic. Are there any other non-profits you’re working with, Susanna? 

Susanna: Yes. We’re working with a new Georgia project, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s an organization that was originally founded by Stacey Abrams and now runs as a community organization to inform people of voting rights not only in Georgia but around the country. And we are going to be working with them on a game jam, which… it’s like a hackathon. It’s an experience. We bring game developers together and we’d like to bring in subject matter experts, and together we’re going to be building games or have our designers build games that inform people about their rights as voters.

To me, it always starts with audience and impact goals. Who are you trying to reach, and what are your goals for impact? Because those two answers to those questions will inform about whether you want to create a mobile game that can be played by people on the bus or waiting in line or anywhere in any context, versus a browser-based game, for example, which is much easier to use in schools. 

Denver: Great stuff! So, if you were a CEO of a nonprofit organization, which you already are, but I’m talking about another nonprofit organization, and your board came to you and said, “Hey, Susanna, we need to have greater impact in the work we’re doing. Why don’t you look into games?” How would you go about it? What would you do if you were running that organization in terms of getting started in this space to leverage games, to have greater impact against mission?

Susanna: Well, we’re in those conversations all the time with CEOs and not-for-profits. And many, many times the first point of entry, honestly, is to come to our festival because it’s a way that you are going to hear about dozens of projects that were either started by NGOs or studios or government agencies. So just from a fact-based opportunity, just take a look there.

Secondly, we are working with not-for-profits in informing them and guiding them on how they can take those steps. So that’s exactly how we started with the Nobel Peace Center. That’s how we started with – we’re working on a nuclear security project and VR with Princeton University.

So, there’s basic understanding I think that’s needed about what the landscape is, what are your opportunities in terms of the type of games. But for us, to me, it always starts with audience and impact goals. Who are you trying to reach, and what are your goals for impact? Because those two answers to those questions will inform about whether you want to create a mobile game that can be played by people on the bus or waiting in line or anywhere in any context, versus a browser-based game, for example, which is much easier to use in schools. 

And if your interest is to reach young people in a facilitated environment, then that’s where I would say it’s a browser-based game. If you’re looking to reach the general public, and you want them to have a more casual experience in playing a game over a period of time, then the mobile opportunity might be the way to go.

On our program, kids are learning how to make games, but they have to think about how these games can be applied to make their communities better… So, imagine if you want young people to be thinking about climate change, what a great way to get them thinking about this topic through a creative experience that is involved in something they’re passionate about. 

Denver: What good advice to start with – “What kind of change are you looking to cause? And begin with that.” 

The Games for Change Student Challenge, I remember when that started five or six years ago, you said we’re just going to start it in New York. And now you’re in Atlanta and LA and other places across the country. Tell us a little bit about it and how it is going. 

Susanna: We’re really proud of this program. You’re absolutely right. We started about five or six years ago in New York City as a pilot. And our theory of change was that we believe that by engaging with young people… in this case it was middle school and high school students, primarily from underserved areas, working mainly with Title I schools– if we can give them an opportunity to become creators, not just consumers of games, which they are passionate about, we can give them opportunities in which to learn on important 21st-century skills that are used in the process of making games, like critical thinking and problem solving, as well 21st-century skills in the STEM area… learning early computer programming. And we marry that with civic engagement.

So, kids, on our program, kids are learning how to make games, but they have to think about how these games can be applied to make their communities better. And we offer prompts for students to think about certain issues. And this is another way that NGOs and nonprofits can work with us because we work with NGOs to help frame what those issues are. So, imagine if you want young people to be thinking about climate change, what a great way to get them thinking about this topic through a creative experience that is involved in something they’re passionate about. 

So, the program in New York expanded from that first year to Atlanta, LA and Detroit, also Seattle, and we’ll be launching in Pittsburgh this next school year. We’ve reached over 32,000 students across those areas. We have trained over 550 educators and have had nearly 4,000 games made as part of our overall competition, and we are just finishing up this last round which we did completely virtually. 

And we were amazed to see the level of participation through a challenging year. But it’s a program that the teachers know, the educators know their students are going to engage with. And in a year of just a lot of disinterested and exhausted students and working on Zoom and all the different challenges that COVID has brought to their education, working with games was a relief, a different kind of unit to go through. And these kids did an amazing job.

Denver: I can imagine it was a shot of adrenaline for a lot of them. We went through our Groundhog Day existence. 

Susanna, as far as the Student Challenge, has it grown in any other ways? 

Susanna: Yes. We’ve got two really exciting programs that have kind of stemmed out of our original idea about bringing game design and impact game design to classrooms.

First, we received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to expand this program into museum education departments at museums all over the country. So as COVID hit, two museums were challenged with how to engage with their communities if their doors were closed. And through museum education departments, we were able to offer those educators an opportunity to participate in this program.  So, their communities can learn how to make games. 

But what also, I think has come out of it, which is just super fun, is professional development for these museum educators, to create more game-like experiences within the museums themselves. So, how to create more engaging and interactive experiences for the young people that come through the museums. And we’re working with 40 museums across the country, from science museums, arts, cultural museums, and it’s really resonating with these museum educators. And we’ll be repeating the program again next year. 

Young people are going to have an opportunity to learn the STEM and the 21st-century skills, research these issues, and talk to other kids around the world about their experience around these issues and how they would want to express them through a game. And they’re going to collaborate on various platforms to make games together.

Denver: That’s great. It’s really funny sometimes when you have constraints like we’ve had with this pandemic, the innovation that can come out of those constraints. Because this probably would have never happened or crossed their minds, except for the realities that they became hibernators. They had such a difficult time. You have the Feeding Americas who were overwhelmed with need, but then you had museums who basically still had overhead to pay, but nobody coming. So, you get creative, and that’s just a great example of that.

Susanna: Yes. We love that program. And museum educators are a special bunch, and we actually, I think we have our second professional development next week, but we will be running the program again the following year. So, we will have an open application for more museum educators to participate. 

The other program is with the State Department, and I mentioned at the beginning of this interview. So, we received a grant from the Stevens Initiative, which is run by The Aspen Institute but funded through the Department of State.

And what we’re doing is adapting the Games for Change Student Challenge into being a virtual exchange program, where youth from countries around the world– in this case we’re focusing on Israel, Bahrain, and the Emirates, and Abu Dhabi– where students there as well as the US, will learn how to make games and then collaborate together in this cross-cultural program where they’ll be creating mini game studios and making games together around topics. And in this case, we’re going to focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

So, young people are going to have an opportunity to learn the STEM and the 21st-century skills, research these issues, and talk to other kids around the world about their experience around these issues and how they would want to express them through a game. And they’re going to collaborate on various platforms to make games together. 

And this program is going to run for the next two and a half years. We’ll reach around 3,000 students. And I’m excited to see how game design and passion for games can bring kids together from different places around the world.

Denver: That will be one that I will most certainly follow. That is really great. Tell us what’s happening with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the gaming community.  What’s being done to move the needle?  What still needs to be done?

Susanna: So within the gaming community, I think there’s two conversations to be had. One is the diversity issues within the gaming industry itself. Who’s making the games? There is a big issue there, and there has been for a while, not only from a gender perspective but also from BIPOC and other marginalized communities.

I just was on a panel this past week at E3 which is the large games industry kind of event where new games are released. And I was on a panel that Take-Two hosted. Take-Two is the owner of Rockstar that makes Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K. So, really big, popular titles. And we’ve been receiving funding from them as well as other not-for-profits who are working in education. 

So, I think systemically, the way to change the makeup of who are making games has to be about empowering young people to see that this is a career path for them and get them excited to follow this and give them the skills to follow this through to the point of which they are in the employment workforce age. 

So, you’ve got organizations like Games for Change, and then you’ve got others, like Girls Make Games and Gay Gaming Professionals who are, in a sense, feeding the pipeline of young people from diverse backgrounds to understand this as a career path for them, gain the early skills that can lead them to going into some kind of higher education or workforce training program, or the universities that then are offering scholarships. Organizations like the Independent Game Developers’ Association or the ESA Foundation that are providing scholarships for diverse students so that again, they can have the education.  And then it’s up to the industry to make a commitment to hire these young people as a priority. And we’re seeing changes happen slowly, but they are changing. 

The other way to look at it is the game communities themselves, people who play games. How we can address what exists in many communities – toxicity and harassment that can go… that people who are marginalized feel in playing those games? And we’ve heard stories about girls who hide their gender identity when playing games, because you can have an avatar…. Just so they won’t have to deal with that when they’re playing a game.

So, one of the programs that we started is called Raising Good Gamers. And again, starting with young people, let’s help empower young people, from giving them the skills and how to be a good gamer, so they can be the change. And as well as an industry, and how can the games industry and researchers and parents and educators make those changes as supports in order to create safe, online play spaces for young people. And particularly, for those who are at risk, because they are coming from marginalized communities. 

Denver: A couple of good initiatives. And I think it’s good that you have that long-term time horizon. Sometimes people try to do it with a magic wand; it never works. They’ve got to fill a pipeline. It’s a generational change. You start there, and you just build, build, build, and that’s the kind of change that really lasts. 

You talked about your funding just a moment ago. Talk a little bit about social impact investing, because there’ve been a couple of things that you’ve been doing and working with organizations that are helping you, and, let’s say, it’s a little bit of a different way than the traditional brand.

Susanna: Social impact investing. There’s a traditional sense where you’ve got impact; you’ve got funds; you’ve got VCs that are focused predominantly on products or companies that can return on the double bottom line. So, they can return from a financial perspective, and then they can also have a return on the impact.

And then there’s also,  probably not traditionally viewed, but impact investing where the interest is in giving grants or accelerator programs to companies, again, on products, but not expecting a financial return, but investing in those companies because investing in terms of grant or providing funding for those initiatives because they have a strong value.

And I’ve seen a lot happen in that space with companies like AT&T where they have Aspire Accelerator, where they’re giving $100,000 to companies and providing a program for them to achieve their impact goals. And in our world, I’m seeing a lot of games being supported in that way.

We just did a program with a funder called Endless Network. And Endless is run by Ray Dalio’s son, Matt Dalio. And we ran it as a competition. I still consider it social impact investing, but again, without the ROI, from a financial perspective, where we ran a competition for games called STEM Your Game.

So, we were looking for game developers that are entertainment game developers who think that their game could be adapted for an educational purpose. Because we want to reach, want to use the best game designers out there to create entertaining games in order to want people to play them. And then it’s an impact goal. 

So, we ran this competition where we identified two game developers who had fantastic games… that are experts. And our judges said that we do believe that with the right tweaks or with the right educational consultants to come in and help develop curriculum, they can then re-release that game, and have an impact goal in this case, teaching STEM education to middle school students. 

And we had a prize pool of $150,000 which we granted amongst the two companies and then offered the types of support to help them achieve the goal of creating the most impactful game. And then we have a program that will run over the next six months, giving them access to educational consultants, distribution people, and how to reach the education market. And our only caveat in there, not only caveat, but a main caveat in receiving the money from us is that there has to be an educational version for free that goes to schools, but there can be a traditional fee-based product that can be released to the consumer market. 

Denver: Games for Change Festival, it’s coming up July 12-14. Tell us a little bit about it. What’s on the docket for this year? 

Susanna: Yes. We’re so excited to run the program again. You know, last year we were hugely disappointed that we couldn’t do our event in person as many conveners and festivals around the world were. 

But what ended up happening, again, talking about the silver linings that can happen with constraints. So, we had an event online, and we decided to make it for free. We decided because we had amazing sponsors and funders that allowed us to produce the event, we didn’t need to have tickets there. So, we made it for free. 

And what ended up happening is our audience grew sevenfold where we typically have about 1,000 people in person. 7,000 people from around the world from 81 countries joined. And we really saw that obviously global reach that there are people around the world who are interested in learning about how they can use games and immersive media for impact.

So, here we are in 2021, in July, still a little unclear of whether we were going to open up and be able to have it in person. So, we’re doing it virtually again. And we’re doing it for free again. So, it’s July 12 – 14 with a week prior of workshops. So that’s something else that NGO CEOs might be interested in checking out, 90-minute workshops on different aspects of impact games. So, you can find all that information on our website. 

But what we will have during the main festival is three days, jam-packed sessions, that talk about games and immersive media across three program areas.  Really, four program areas. One is games and learning, how games can be used in K-12. Health and wellness, so, we talked about neuroscience and how games can be used as cognitive therapies as just simple wellness experiences to help with anxiety, and then also civic and social issues. So, the big challenge is how games can be used to build awareness around big global issues. 

Then we also have a track on XR. So, how can XR and immersive media also be applied to these different areas? We have keynotes and panels. A lot of networking opportunities. And we just anticipate a big turnout again and are excited about who we can bring together? Can people find new partnerships out of this experience? From people that you meet or hear about?  And we are excited to host it. 

Denver: I’ve been to the festival before, and I’ve realized how much going on to the side was even more than the main stage in terms of people connecting and things happening as a result of that. And it is interesting that when you do get back, hopefully next year, to the physical festival, I can’t imagine there won’t be some kind of virtual component after this. There seems to be an amplification that I think is going to come out of this going forward. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I think.

Susanna: I think so, too. You are right. What happens in the hallways is really special. I felt like we used to call it like the best of a big small event. Like big enough, there’s a buzz, but small enough that you actually can meet people and have multiple conversations with them. 

So, we will go back to a version of that in 2022. But we are going to see growth in our international community, and we are launching chapters around the world. And they will be holding their own local events too. In Australia, we launched Asia Pacific last year, or we announced it last year. They’re going to launch it in October. We have Europe and Africa and we’ll be announcing a new partnership on another continent at the festival. 

Denver: There you go. You guys are still in the early innings, it sounds like to me. 

Let me close with this, Susanna. Gaming has always been on the leading edge of so many different issues. And I think there’s a lot of cognitive diversity that comes from that community. As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly, there was a game called Plague a couple of years ago about a virus and a pandemic going across the world. So, how pressured was that? 

What do you think that’s happening in the gaming community that you observed that maybe people in the broader general community would be well-advised to know about? 

Susanna: Well, first I want to touch on that game Plague because that story about Plague Inc. and its developer didn’t stop with just that game as an entertainment property.

It got the notice of the CDC because the game itself was rooted in scientific facts that if applied, it could be considered an impact game. So, I do know that Ndemic, the creators, are working with CDC, to create an educational version of it, framed as such. So, that was tremendous, right?

Denver: It really is, it really is. 

Susanna: I think that the independent developer community is a really, really strong one. And I likened it to where the independent film industry was 15, 20 years ago with the democratization of how one can release a game. Well, how you can make a game at much lower costs, but also how you can release a game through publishing platforms like Steam. But also on the iPhone, through the App Stores and Google Play on Androids. 

There’s just such talent out there that can make amazing games and not tremendous high costs or with a huge barrier for distribution. So, it’s not just about partnering with AAA studios which are harder to partner with. The stakes are higher, and they’ve got different business models. However, even those big, the bigger players are understanding the power they have to reach audiences. And it may not always be about making an original game. It could be about partnering with a big studio to do a campaign within an existing game.

I know a lot of these games have done a tremendous job in fundraising for not-for-profits by purchasing items within the game. A skin or something like pink. I think there were like pink outfits within Overwatch, and it went through breast cancer, right? So, there are ways of which you can engage with gaming communities within games, that’s one way. Or making a game at a reasonable cost that can have distribution with a breadth of independent game developers. And you can find those game developers at the Games for Change Festival. So that’s a way to seek out people who actually are making impact games. 

And if they’re a traditional game developer, I think that there are great ways to work with entertainment-based games. The trick is to embed a subject matter expert in that development team, because you need to have that combination of somebody who understands the issue deeply with those who understand how to make a game, with that expertise. And you put that combination together, and it can be very powerful.

Denver: Well, that’s what you started with that cross-sector community, all coming together, everybody making their contribution. So again, the festival is July 12-14, and you have those events and activities a week ahead of time. Where can people access this? And as you say, it’s all for free. 

Susanna: Yes. So, the easiest URL to share is our And it’s spelled out, games, F-O-R, change. On there, you can find a link to our festival with a login or the registration. And you’ll also find information about our workshop week which is happening in advance.

Denver: Fantastic. Well, thanks for being here today, Susanna. It was great to have you on the program.  And just a delight to see you again!

Susanna: Oh, thank you. It was my pleasure. Next year in person. 

Denver: Absolutely.

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