Before E3 Corrupts Us, Games For Change Festival Kicks Off

Games that are frivolous and possibly useless to society will be showcased next week at E3, but this week, in New York, games designed for the good of the world get the spotlight.

The sixth-annual, two-day Games For Change festival kicks off in New York City tomorrow at Parsons The New School for Design kicks off tomorrow and runs through Friday, bookended by keynotes from Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof and Spore executive producer Lucy Bradshaw.

The festival comes just days before E3 takes over the media conversation about video games, but, if true to form, should make some news of its own.

Highlights include:

Keynote Address (Thursday) – Nicholas Kristof — Author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The The New York Times will discuss his new book and television project, Half The Sky, which seeks to bring global awareness to the tens of millions of women and girls whose lives are devastated as a result of sex trafficking, maternal mortality and gender-based violence. Kristof will also announce an accompanying social networking game, which he hopes will help convert this awareness into a global movement to turn oppression into opportunity for women and girls throughout the developing world.

and

Documentary Games (Thursday) — As game theory and the practice of making games become recognized as valued pedagogical and cultural processes across a broad spectrum of disciplines, we see forthcoming a movement specific to a new genre - documentary gaming - which will position game systems within a framework that questions the practice, ethics, and identity of games. Can documentary best practices help us negotiate the socio-political and cultural significance of a game? Do the same ethical concerns and the validity of the "truth claim" affect games the way they have historically influenced the efficacy of documentary and journalistic media? How may designers, filmmakers and activists collaborate to advance and diversity the space?

For more on the festival, check out the official Games4Change Festival program.