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Games for Change is responding to the times and launching programming at its upcoming event that will tackle subjects such as offering mental health for gamers and game developers, coping with COVID-19, making games more accessible, and fighting racial injustice.

The nonprofit group — which advocates the power of games as drivers of social impact — unveiled the roster for 150 speakers at the upcoming Games for Change Festival 2020 virtual event on July 14 to July 16. The festival will have more than 100 sessions across four programming tracks – Games for Learning, Civics and Social Issues, Health and Wellness, and XR for Change.

“During this time of self-distancing and social unrest, we recognize that there is an increased awareness how video games play an important role in our society, in particular with mental health,” said Susanna Pollack, the president of Games for Change, in an email to GamesBeat. “We aim to communicate through all aspects of our programming that video games and immersive experiences can foster connectedness, resilience, and well-being. These themes speak to some of the inherent qualities of games that our organization/community has been espousing for years, albeit now framed through the shared global context of COVID-19 and the call for changes in our society.”

Keynote speakers include Courtney Cogburn, who will discuss how virtual reality can foster anti-racism; and Colleen Macklin, who will speak about a collection of the best games rooted in diversity and inclusivity.


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Other speakers include Dan Ayoub (Microsoft), Daniel Kelley (Anti-Defamation League), Gordon Bellamy (Gay Gaming Professionals/USC), Brennan Spiegel (Cedars-Sinai Health System), Jaron Lanier (Microsoft), Mia Tramz (Time Magazine), Mimi Ito (Connected Learning Lab), Chris Milk (Within), Yennie Solheim (Niantic), Katie Salen (UC Irvine), Laura Higgins (Roblox), Jesse Schell (Schell Games), Olivier Palmieri and Anthony Kozak (Ubisoft), and the youngest speaker, VR superstar Winston Matthews, who is 17.

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