Change Your Perspective

Wendy Smolen shares her top three takeaways from the New York-based Games for Change Festival and the opening keynote by Playmatics cofounder Nick Fortugno.
April 29, 2015

Games for Change is multi-layered fun. Playing amazingly innovative games is a given. Meeting a whole new wave of creatives (who get younger each year) is great. Combining it with the Tribeca Film Festival is brilliant. But to me, the crux of the conference is more about the changes than the games. Industry thought-leaders caution and cajole us to reboot our thinking. Change is good.

At this year’s event, Playmatics cofounder Nick Fortugno’s opening keynote on impact-based media set the tone. The reality of consumption is that people are using multiple devices every day, said Fortugno. They don’t care where they consume media as much as what content they can access. In today’s on-demand world, using the right media is more important than ever. Fortugno discussed going beyond the obvious question “Who is your audience?” and advised focusing on the more relevant question: “How are you engaging them?”

Here, three of my favorite takeaways.

Kill the transmedia checklist.

Audiences want experiences, not just games, Fortugno said. They want to be moved, not just entertained. But, using a variety of media to get across your message (i.e., the classic transmedia matrix model), is no longer the pat answer. Not every film needs an app; not every website needs a film. The secret sauce is using the right media for the right reasons. And not using all media…just because you can. Sound obvious? Think how often it’s ignored.

Think multi-screen. Not multi-tasking.

Create impact by recognizing the strength of each medium, said Fortugno. For example, a game often can’t tell a story as well as a film, but it can be more immersive. Done right, each platform is a component of the same message that can all happen at the same time. And by the way, build all your platforms simultaneously. (That’s how they’ll be used.) Then, stay real by testing, iterating, and re-testing, advised Collen Macklin, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design. For an even more nuanced discussion, read and consider the type of impact games can really have.

The future of impact media is interactivity.

Engage your audience where they live, be it on screen or off. Tell your story in different ways. Again, this may not sound so new, but how many projects do this effectively? Lance Weiler, Director of Experiential Learning and Applied Creativity at Columbia University as well as a founding member and Director of the Digital Storytelling Lab, and a pioneer in mixing storytelling and technology, proposed that personal connection is at the core of successful 21st century story telling. Show, don’t tell, he advised. Follow some of the innovative ways he’s creating and testing his theories at http:/

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