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The Game Awards honors 5 games for change

"'Games for Change.' WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, The Game Awards?"

This tweet (and many to follow) is how we learned that The Game Awards, the new games industry awards show, would include games for change not just among their nominated games but as a standalone category.

The Game Awards, backed by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, is produced and hosted by Geoff Keighley, who formerly worked on the Spike Video Game Awards, which ended after a 10-year run. It was exciting to see the recognition of games for change on such a large stage, which drew nearly 2 million online viewers in its inaugural year.

Congratulations to Ubisoft's Valiant Hearts: The Great War, winner of the Games for Change category and the Best Narrative category, too. The other nominees in the Games for Change category were:
  • Never Alone (E-Line Media)
  • The Last of Us: Left Behind (Naughty Dog)
  • This War of Mine (11 bit studios)
  • Mountain (David O'Reilly)
There's still some public confusion around what "games for change” are. Oh, if we had a nickel for every time someone wondered if games for change references games that are inexpensive. So even with all the excitement, we have a ways to go toward widespread recognition of what games for change stand for and why and how they are important.
 
Throughout the three-hour awards show in Las Vegas, it seemed like there were more games premiering or showing new trailers than nominees. Many of these were more of the usual, but a handful of interesting titles debuted: Tacoma from Gone Home developer Fullbright, Hazelight from the makers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and Three One Zero's Adrift. In the meantime, watch for our own Games for Change Awards nominees, which will be announced in March 2015.
Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Last Sunday, we brought three social impact games to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's first Indie Arcade in Washington D.C.! The event was led by the museum, American University (who invited us in the first place), and MAGFest, in partnership with the IGDA chapters in D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

At least 4,000 people came out and played, and our booth was packed with players trying out:
  • Lucas Pope's dystopian document thriller Papers, Please, selected for its provocative portrayal of immigration and life in a totalitarian country

  • E-Line Media's Native Alaskan folklore-based cooperative platformer Never Alone, which demonstrates how indigenous culture can be preserved and relayed through digital media

  • iCivics' fun jury duty sim We the Jury, representing a D.C.-based indie social impact game developer and highlighting core civic duties
Catch up with a quick video from iCivics and the American Art Museum's recap of the experience.

We've really enjoyed showing games publicly around the country so far — at the Tribeca Family Fair in New York, at Chicago City of Learning, and at USAID's Frontiers in D.C. â€” and hope to host more public arcades like these in the future. Stay tuned to see where we'll be bringing games next!
4 tips for getting your game covered by the press

Four journalists from top video game publications — Polygon founding editor Brian Crecente, Kotaku reporter Evan Narcisse, Mashable reporter Chelsea Stark, and Kill Screen co-founder Jamin Warren — convened to talk about best practices for game promotion at a panel, which we co-hosted with Playcrafting NYC earlier this month.

The biggest changes to games and games journalism in the past two years have been widespread recognition of games in mainstream media and games’ growing diversity. And as more people try to understand games, creators who are doing different and innovative things will have more opportunities to express themselves to a wider audience. Panelists agreed that now is a better time than ever for games with unique topics or worldviews to shine. This was especially evident in the titles that panelists cited repeatedly throughout the panel as interesting approaches: This War of Mine, Never Alone, Gone Home, and Papers, Please.

Here are four key takeaways that you can start implementing now to promote your game. For more, read the Twitter feed or watch the entire panel on YouTube.
 
  1. "Figure out what your story is and what you want the player to get out of it."
    - Evan Narcisse, Kotaku

    Why are you making this game? How is it different from what we've played before? Will the game surprise players and challenge their assumptions or thinking? Does it connect to topics outside of gaming, and how does it reflect these topics? Answering these questions concisely can pique press attention.
     
  2. "Just reach out to journalists. It’s really easy to make that first step."
    - Brian Crecente, Polygon

    Don't be afraid to send that first introduction email! Journalists *want* to hear from developers. Most journalists' contact information is easily findable or listed on their publication's website. You might not get a response right away but send gentle follow-up reminders, understanding their inboxes are likely just as overloaded as yours.

     
  3. "Be human when approaching journalists. Ask advice. You’re people, we’re people, let’s act like it."
    - Chelsea Stark, Mashable

    No one likes to receive a botched mail merge message that starts with "Hi <FirstName>". Try researching each outlet and what kinds of games they cover. Once you've identified which publications are most likely to cover your style of game, send each of them a tailored pitch. This legwork will take more time but payoff tenfold in comparison to impersonal mass mailings.

     
  4. "Have a press kit and most importantly, have a good origin story."
    - Jamin Warren, Kill Screen

    Flappy Bird skyrocketed to fame because it had a great origin story: One unknown designer created a small, simple game that inadvertently went viral in hours, ultimately receiving 50 million downloads. Shortly after, the designer removed the game from the stores, citing unwanted attention. Don't just talk about your game; share your journey in creating it and why it is interesting. Human stories like these are often attention-grabbing. But don't forget to give press the basic bullet points about your game. Vlambeer's free presskit() is a great way to do this!
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