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What impact do games and the gaming industry have on the world around us? And at what point should those making games ask themselves that question? Three panelists at GamesBeat Summit Next strove to answer those questions.
The panelists were Stanley Pierre-Louis, the president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA); Jessica Lindl, Unity’s VP of social impact; and Dr. David Washington, the founder and Chief Impact Officer of HiDef.
As all three acknowledged that video games are often used by developers to make commentary on modern social issues or to have a specific impact. But these efforts are nascent, and game developers and people in the industry can approach the subject in different ways.
Washington spoke about how social impact was important to him and the other founders of HiDef. “We as a collective believed that social impact needed to be intertwined into the DNA of the company … . We came up with ‘Chief Impact Officer’ to send a message about how important culture, social impact, and doing good is and should be a part of the gaming community.”
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HiDef recently announced a collaboration with Unity to create new metaverse social impact games, with the first one in the pipeline allegedly being a mobile game.
Lindl added that one of the best practices for creators to make social impact through games was cross-industry collaboration, mentioning Pledge 1% and the UN’s Playing for the Planet. “What both of those organizations have provided for us is a playbook … . We’re all writing this as we go, so collaboration is key.”
Both Washington and Lindl agreed that one of the best ways to improve one’s social impact is to reach out to others, particularly the people whom you’re trying to represent or who have created positive social impact through games: “We don’t expect you to become cultural and social impact Jedi Grand Masters. Go find those folks.”
Washington expanded on what that means for the game creators: “There’s a saying I heard that our team has really taken on: ‘There’s nothing wrong with doing well as you do good … . You don’t have to pick. You can have the next unicorn or dragon company. But you can also do good along the way, but don’t think about it as an afterthought. Try to intertwine it from day one.”
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