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South African design firm nominated for Games for Change award.

Earlier this week, Games for Change, a non-profit that catalyzes social impact through digital games, announced the 2013 finalists for the Games for Change Awards in the following categories: Most Significant Impact; Most Innovative; Best Gameplay; and Game of the Year. The annual awards are designed to celebrate excellence in the year’s best “games for change.”

The finalists were selected by a blue ribbon jury and the awards will be presented to winners during the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Games for Change Festival in NYC on Tuesday, June 18th 2013.

For the first time in the award history, a South African design firm has been nominated for the award. Cape Town based design consultancy Formula D interactive designed the Eskom Energy Planner, a game that allows the player to take custody of a virtual city’s power plan and to seek a balance between the most efficient technologies currently available and the most environmentally friendly ones. With its nomination for the “Most Significant Impact” award, the jury not only highlighted the quality of the production, but also the innovative approach of parastatal Energy provider Eskom in using a game to inform consumers about the basics of energy generation and demand management.

Since its foundation in 2007, Formula D Interactive has used digital games when designing educational exhibits and touch screen kiosks for museums and science centres. As one of very few game developers in the country, the company’s vision is to contribute to the innovation of education. One of their key strategies is gaming.

In recent years this goal seems to have moved closer, as even conservative organisations like Eskom realise the potential of gaming for their communication and training. Michael Wolf, interaction designer and founder of Formula D interactive, is looking forward to a drastic increase in the demand of digital games for learning in the next years:

“We are amazed about the unfolding potential of online games in the context of learning, public relations and customer relationship management. Facing the education and skills development challenges we have in South Africa, I have no doubt that South African corporations and government will explore this opportunity.”

Meanwhile, the design team at Formula D is crafting new plans to further develop the Eskom Energy Planner as an induction and training tool for Eskom employees.

The 2013 Finalists for the Games for Change Awards:

Blindside, nominated for Most Innovative
Developer: Epicycle / Platform: Mac, PC, iOS
A fully-immersive 3D audio adventure set in a world you’ll never see. Inspired by one of the creator’s personal story of being temporarily blinded in a high school chemistry accident. A Kickstarter success story with 200% of its goal raised.

Data Dealer, nominated for Most Significant Impact
Developer: Cuteacute Media OG / Platform: Online browser
A game about collecting, collating and selling personal data. Funded by several Viennese and Austrian government agencies supporting arts and culture.

Eskom Energy Planner, nominated for Most Significant Impact
Developer: Formula D Interactive / Platform: Online browser
From Cape Town, South African developer Formula D Interactive comes a game that allows the player to take custody of a virtual city’s power plan and to seek a balance between the most efficient technologies currently available and the most environmentally friendly ones.

Jewish Time Jump – New York, nominated for Most Innovative
Developer: ConverJent / Platform: iOS
In this place-based Augmented Reality game, players travel back in time to the early 1900s in Greenwich Village to uncover a story in Jewish and American history lost to time. Funded by The Covenant Foundation.

Nevermind, nominated for Most Innovative
Developer: Team Nevermind / Platform: PC
A biofeedback-enhanced psychological horror video game that challenges players to go outside the comforts of reality. Nevermind was developed as a MFA thesis at the University of Southern California and with support from IndieGoGo crowd funding participants.

Quandary, nominated for Best Gameplay
Developer: Learning Games Network / Platform: Mac, PC, Web
Players shape the future of a new society while learning how to recognize ethical issues and deal with challenging situations in their own lives. The latest from the Learning Games Network, a spin-off of The Education Arcade at MIT and the Games+Learning+Society Program at the University of Wisconsin.

Reach for the Sun, nominated for Best Gameplay
Developer: Filament Games / Platform: Web
Behind all those leaves, roots, and petals is an intelligent bio-machine of starch, nutrients, and
water. Help a young seedling grow and reproduce before winter approaches. From previous Games for Change Award winning-studio Filament Games and funded by the US Department of Education.

The Republia Times, nominated for Best Gameplay and Most Significant Impact
Developer: Lucas Pope / Platform: Web
As the editor-in-chief at The Republia Times, you must use your influence to print positive articles that paint Republia in a good light.

Change Festival

The Games for Change Festival is the largest gaming event in New York City and the leading international event uniting game creators with others interested in accessing and furthering the positive social impact of games. Major support for the festival is provided by the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and Partners include: Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Tribeca Film Institute. For additional information and to register:

About Games for Change
Founded in 2004, Games for Change facilitates the creation and distribution of social impact games that serve as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts. The organization aims to leverage entertainment and engagement for social good and most recently served as the Executive Producer for the incredibly successful Half the Sky Movement: The Game inspired by the global movement created by Pulitzer-Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. To further grow the field, Games for Change convenes multiple stakeholders, highlights best practices, incubates games, and helps create and direct investment into new projects.