Games For Change Announces 2018 XR For Change Program

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G4C returns after successful inaugural year with XR for Change Summit on June 30 to close out Games for Change Festival.

Games for Change, the leading global advocate for the power of games as drivers of social good, announced today the XR programming for its upcoming Games for Change Festival. The XR for Change Summit, formerly known as VR for Change, will take place on Saturday, June 30 and will be focused on uniting developers, storytellers, researchers, journalists, artists, nonprofits and more to harness the potential of AR/VR/MR to increase positive social impact.

In a daylong gathering, the XR for Change Summit will showcase a range of ways VR, AR and MR can have a meaningful impact in journalism, health, education and training. The goal is to explore how immersive technologies are used to address real-world challenges, create empathy and drive social change. Combining talks, breakouts, and demos, summit attendees will learn about and experience new projects and discuss charting the path forward for the future of these technologies.

The Summit will feature keynote presentations by Walter Greenleaf, PhD (Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University), Tom Furness (Founder & Chairman of Virtual World Society and Founder of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington), and Nadine Hachach-Haram (Surgeon and Co-Founder of Proximie).

“We believe there is tremendous potential for impact in all of these technologies and look forward to nurturing a community that can explore the full breadth of possibilities in making social good experiences.” Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change.

The Games for Change Festival will also feature a XR Brain Jam – a collaborative two-and-a-half day long event that pairs neuroscience researchers and game developers to explore how VR can be used in neuroscience research and cognitive therapy. The game jam, co-hosted by Games for Change and Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, with tech sponsorship by Hewlett-Packard (HP), will take place June 25-27.

Get your pass here.


Terminal 3 by Asad J. Malik with Kaleidoscope VR, Anita Gou, and RYOT

Highlights from the XR for Change programming include:

  • The Immersive Arcade – Attendees will be able to experience some of the most innovative works in XR, including:
    • Terminal 3 by Asad J. Malik
    • Greenland Melting by Emblematic Group
    • Jupiter & Mars by Tigertron
    • 1000 Cut Journey by Courtney Cogburn, Elise Ogle, Cogburn Research Group and Virtual Human Interaction Lab
    • This is Climate Change: Fire, Famine, Feast by Condition One
    • The Journey by Charlotte Mikkelborg
    • She Flies by Her Own Wings by Oculus VR for Good and The Pride Foundation
    • Meeting a Monster by Oculus VR for Good and Life After Hate
    • Into the Now by RSA Films


Notable speakers at the Summit include:

  • Kamal Sinclair (Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Director)
    • Making A New Reality”  How do we mitigate the pitfalls of the past and achieve something we have not realized in 500 years of mass media? Sinclair shares highlights from a research project aimed at investigating this question.
  • Dan Ayoub (Microsoft Mixed Reality Education General Manager)
    • “Expanding Role of Libraries in Education” – Libraries have undertaken considerable reform over the past years, and are taking an increasingly important role in digital literacy for children and adults alike. Ayoub explores why this is an important space for democratizing education.
  • Resham Sidhu (AKQA Creative Director)
    • “The Power of Immersive Worlds” – Sidhu explores combining cutting-edge machine learning (ML) and virtual reality (VR) to create a truly innovative, intuitive, immersive world that puts every child at the center of their story.
  • Chris Szymczak (UNICEF Innovation VR & Event Lead)
    • “Virtual Reality, Actual Divide.” – Szymczak explores why and how UNICEF is investing in XR applications to identify scalable solutions that can solve real problems, strengthen its interventions and provide same technological advances to all children around the world.
  • Joanna Popper (HP Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location Based Entertainment)
    • “To Mars We Go: Designing the Future of Humanity” – Popper as she presents Mars Home Planet and how thousands around the world are using XR to design, create and experience life on Mars.
  • Vijay Ravindran (Floreo, Inc. CEO)
    • “Building Social and Communication Skills using VR for Children with Autism” – Ravindran discusses the challenge of learning content for children with autism in VR, the strategy Floreo has taken to prove that VR generalizes to real-world development, and showcase the incredible potential for VR to build a next-generation of training tools.
  • Courtney Cogburn (Columbia University Assistant Professor)
    • “Exploring Racism in VR” – Might immersive and interactive experiences of racism in VR be an effective tool in the fight for racial equality? Cogburn reviews a year-long collaboration between Columbia and Stanford academic teams to answer this question. This session will cover what was accomplished, lessons learned and challenges for future work in this area.
  • Dan White (Filament Games CEO)
    • “Show Me The Money – How to Fund VR Projects”  With VR hardware adoption moving slowly, developing VR content is a risky endeavor. Filament Games CEO Dan White shares  insider tips on practical ways to pursue VR funding, drawing on Filament’s experiences seeking and securing funding for two VR titles.
  • Boo Aguilar (FLAGCX Head of Next Generation Experiences) and Adam Haar Horowitz (Graduate Student, MIT Media Lab)
    • “Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and XR” – The next generation of human-computer interaction will radically change the way we interact with one another, with other computational systems, how we buy and sell, how we create and produce, how we research, and how we perceive the world and affect it. Aguilar and Horowitz discuss a few of the projects they’ve been working on with partners like IBM, HTC, United Nations and Unity to accelerate this change, as well as other technologies to keep an eye on for the future.


Notable panels at the Summit include:

  • Future of Work and The Role Immersive Tech Will Play
    • Description: Panelists dive into discussions on the changing nature of work and imagines how immersive technologies will create better pathways for adapting to that change.
    • Moderator: Ryan Seashore (XR for Change Curator)
    • Panelists: Dan Ayoub (General Manager – MR Education, Microsoft), Erin Winick (Associate Editor, Future of Work, MIT Technology Review), Kyle Jackson (CEO, Talespin)
  • XR for Good – The Creators’ Perspective
    • Description: AR and VR are powerful tools to share stories and experiences. In this panel we will get the creators’ perspectives on the challenges and potential of these mediums.
    • Moderator: Lauren Burmaster (PM, VR for Good, Oculus)
    • Panelists: Asad J. Malik (Founder, 1RIC), Jesse Ayala (Creative Director, Fovrth Studios)
  • VR is Complicated: The Potential for VR in Education from Student and Teacher Perspectives
    • Description: Panelists share findings on emerging technology in schools, empathy, value and ethics as a result of VR and discuss possibilities for future research directions.
    • Moderator: TBC
    • Panelists: Lisa Castaneda (Co-Founder and CEO, foundry10), Marie Graham (Educator, VR Lab Coordinator, Mount Vernon School), Steve Isaacs (Teacher, Game Design and Development, Bernards Township Public Schools)
  • Real Talk: What VC’s look for in XR startups
    • Description: Panelists from some of the leading venture capital firms in the XR space reveal what they look for in companies and how startups can make themselves more appealing to outside investors.
    • Moderator: TBC
    • Panelists: Martina Welkhoff (Founding Partner, WXR Fund), Alice Lloyd George (Principal, RRE Ventures), Tom Emrich (Partner, Super Ventures)

“HP is proud to be the VR technology sponsor of the XR Brain Jam and a contributing tech sponsor of the 2018 Games for Change Festival in New York,” said Gus Schmedlen, Vice President of Education for HP.  “Purposeful gaming holds the promise to improve learning outcomes for students of all ages, and immersive technologies like the HP Mixed Reality Head Mounted Display and HP ZVR Backpack have unleashed powerful new tools for game developers to create even more compelling and effective applications.”

Additional programming will be announced in the coming weeks. Guests interested in attending the XR for Change Summit can purchase tickets by visiting: http://g4c18.eventbrite.com.




Alecz is currently initiating HIGHWAY101, Experiential Techgnology Community, a VR-focused hub based in NYC that represents visionary creators in NYC, builds a network of industry influencers, and actively participates in industry events and festivals. He's co-organizer of The Virtual Art Collective Meetup in NYC that focuses on painting, sculpting and animating in VR.

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