Educators' Guide to Innovation

Connecting educators interested in innovation

8th Annual Games for Change Festival - Day 2

Day 2 of the Games for Change Festival had more of a social focus that aimed for the government, industry and business participants. For a more comprehensive look at my notes throughout the day, check out my twitter stream

My highlights of day 2 included:


Stakehold'em Conference Game

A social networking game that was custom created for the Games for Change Festival was launched in the morning. It is a game of collaborative card combinations - put together project teams to score points - highest scoring player and most active player both win great prizes. This is a great game that encourages people to meet others and network to achieve an aim. The card deck consisted of 16 cards numbered 1 through 4 with 4 suits (Game Development, Funding & Publishing, Content Expertise, Research & Assessment) plus wildcards. An example of a game card:

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Each player was given a game card upon registration at the festival. The aim is to find other players to combine cards to form scoring hands. A hand is any set of 2 to 4 cards where either all cards are the same suit or each card is from a different suit. Each hand, depending on what it is, is worth a set number of points. There are also Power Hands that are difficult to get but are high scoring hands.

To earn the points, the entire group who has collaboratively made a hand, have to go to the Stakehold'em booth in the festival hall. The group is then photographed with their hand, points are tallied by an administrator and added to the leaderboard. Each individual then relinquishes their card and are given a new one at random. The process then starts again. Stakehold'em is run over two days with final points being tallied and prizes distributed at the close of the festival.

This game generated a definite buzz - people were introducing themselves to compete strangers, sending out tweets and generally harassing anyone that walked past to see what card they had. My initial strategy was to try and make power hands - i wasn't very successful and it is safe to say that I wont be winning any prizes. The game was great though - sometimes you can go to a conference and not know anyone or meet anyone for various reasons - a conference game like Stakehold'em combats that issue.


Public Media and Games

Michael Shirley quoting Frank Lantz "Games are intricate rituals carved out of physics of thought, math and emotion." and "Interactivity is our steam."


James Shelton, US Department of Education

James Shelton is the Assistant Deputy Secretary for innovation and improvement, managing a portfolio that includes most of the Department's competitive teacher quality, school choice and learning technology programs. I ended up catching this talk via the live stream and was impressed with the vision that he promoted. A great liveblog of this talk has been put together by Dianne Rees titled "What's the definition of innovation in education" -

A great capture of what was a great talk that made many salient points


Game Demo Spotlight

The final session of the day gave 6 game developers an opportunity to present their games to a panel of designers, experts and funders for feedback. I thought all 6 games were great - but particularly liked Frontiers and Ludwig.



A 3D online multiplayer game, based on the Half-life 2 engine. The game leads players towards the borders of Europe. It portrays a refugees itinerary from the sub-sahara region to Europe. The player can choose to take on the character of a refugee or a border guard and face various situations depending upon their actions. This game looks great - very high production quality and highlights an important social issue.



A 3D adventure on renewable energies set in a sci-fi context. It is 100% based on a Physics curriculum and involves collecting and analysing data, finding resources, exploring the interactive 3D world and solving quests.


You can explore the other 4 games that were presented here -


Excitement is an understatement about tomorrow's line-up. The two keynotes that I will be attending will be by Jesse Schell of Schell Games and Gabe Newell, Co-Founder of Valve Corporation (Half-life, Portal 2 fame).

(Jesse Schell did an entertaining talk last year that I got to see - the recording of that talk can be accessed at

The remainder of the day will be spent in the Games for Learning Institute thematic strand of programming around the theme of Design Patterns for Games for Learning. The Games for Learning Institute is a joint research endeavour of Microsoft Research bringing together experts from around the world. The institutes aim is to identify design patterns for effective educational games that industry partners can draw on to assure high quality when designing their own games for learning.


Looking forward to day 3.

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Comment by Adrian Camm on June 22, 2011 at 12:59
I should have also added that I loved Channel 4's motto - "Do it first, make trouble, inspire change." :)


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