June 21, 2011

SCA Creates “Games for Change”

USC Video Games Featured in NYC Festival

In the past, video games were the realm of big guns, speeding cars and aggressive empire building but, in the constantly evolving environment of interactive media, that perception is changing. The USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media Division is consistently on the cutting edge of new technology and experiences in interactive game design. At the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival, three games with IMD students and staff on their design crews were recognized for pushing the paradigm of video gaming.

Diane Tucker, Kurosh ValaNejad, Simon Wiscombe,
Peter Brinson, and incoming IMD Chair Tracy Fullerton

“The IMD community has been involved with Games for Change since its beginnings,” said Tracy Fullerton, the incoming Chair of the Interactive Media Division. “We all get a lot of inspiration from the work that we see there and the people who come to the Festival, so it is really rewarding to have so many IMD projects represented this year.”

The Games for Change Festival is also hosting the 2nd Annual Games for Change Awards this year. The Awards recognize excellence in games that address current and pressing social issues and will be available on-site to play throughout the Festival. Awards will be presented at NYU’s Skirball Center on Wednesday, June 22 and streamed live featuring keynote speaker Al Gore.

Featured this year are three games from SCA: Mother Nature a game for the Microsoft Kinect, project lead Diane Tucker; Three Generations, a historical board game, project leads Nonny De La Pena and Simon Wiscombe; and The Cat and the Coup, a historical game about the CIA engineered coup against the first democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1953, project leads Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad. The Cat and the Coup was nominated for the Knight New Game award, which recognizes documentary subject matter in games.

“I saw Peter [Brinson] working in the lab on The Cat and the Coup and felt a responsibility, as an Iranian-American and as the lab's art director, to help,” said ValaNejad, “At first I simply wanted to make sure the game looked authentic; that the set dressing reflects 1950’s Iran. But as we continued to develop the project, Peter’s vision for meaningful mechanics and my interest in narrative architecture combined into the current form of the game.”

“It is great to see such a variety of formats and topics included, from the political documentary games, Kinect games and a historical board game -- they are each so unique and groundbreaking in their own ways,” said Fullerton.

More information, a live stream and Al Gore’s remarks, please visit: http://gamesforchange.org/festival2011/video/

For profiles on the games, please visit: