A video game festival that celebrates games designed to somehow save the planet recently took place in New York City. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
The 10th annual Games for Change Festival, held last week at New World Stages, is a video game convention but quite clearly not a big flashy one. In fact, the games featured don't normally appear on store shelves. Where they differ even more though from most mainstream games is that the majority of them were free to play. And as you play them you're learning something, sometimes even helping someone.
"Games for Change are games that are made and used for communicating interesting and compelling ideas around social issues, political issues. It's really about how can you maybe change the world through games," says Michelle Byrd of Games for Change.
Games like "Reach for the Sun" teach about the importance of being green by getting behind the science of how plants work, "The Republica Times" where you're the editor of a newspaper trying to print socially responsible stories, or "Quandry" for teaching kids about all the potential upsides and downsides of decision making, even if they think they're making the right decision.
"It's designed to develop ethical thinking skills as a player you're captain of a colony on a far away planet, some time in the future, and it's your job to solve ethical dilemmas when the community itself faces problems that they can't resolve," explains Peter Stidwill of The Learning Games Network.
And while the emphasis is primarily on games built from the ground up, to do good there is also an effort to get some of the themes from these games into more mainstream titles.
Companies like PlayMob are selling virtual items in mainstream games, with profits going to real world charities.
"The next project we're releasing will be in July it's a Bear Grylls project an 'Infinity Runner' game where you can buy a boat and the boat will cost $10. Five of that goes to a charity called Global Angels and that five dollars will give one person in India or Africa water for 10 years," says Parker Crockford of PlayMob.
For more information on the festival and to find links to play the games, visit gamesforchange.org.