Games for Change, a non-profit that catalyzes social impact through digital games, today announced its lineup of keynote speakers at its annual festival, taking place from April 22-24, 2014, at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Held as part of Tribeca Innovation Week at TFF 2014, presented by AT&T, the Games for Change Festival will also run the Games for Change Arcade. The Arcade will be open to the public at the TFF Family Festival Street Fair on Saturday, April 26.

In addition, the Festival will also hold a public game competition, sponsored by the Schusterman Family Foundation, to help the Israeli team SpaceIL land an unmanned spaceship on the moon and win the Google X Lunar Prize ($40 Million in total prizes).

Games for Change is known for bringing together the brightest minds that are incorporating gaming into every aspect of life to advance society. Festival goers will get to experience presentations from these rock stars from the gaming world:

  • Jane McGonigal, PhD is an award-winning game designer and New York Times’ bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. McGonigal is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games — or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems. She is the inventor and co-founder of SuperBetter, a game that has helped more than 250,000 players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury. As the Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research group in Palo Alto, California, McGonigal’s research focuses on how games are transforming the way we lead our real lives, and how they can be used to increase our resilience and well-being. McGonigal has a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in performance studies, and has consulted and developed game workshops for more than a dozen Fortune 500 and Global 500 Companies, including Intel, Nike, Disney, Accenture, Microsoft, and Nintendo.
  • Jenova Chen is the designer of the award-winning games Cloud, flOw, Flower and Journey at thatgamecompany, an independent game studio recognized for creating timeless interactive entertainment that inspires and connects people worldwide. After earning a bachelor's degree for computer science in his hometown of Shanghai, Chen moved to Los Angeles, where he got a Master's Degree in the founding class of University of Southern California's Interactive Media and Games Division.  Following graduation, he co-founded thatgamecompany with fellow graduates, where he remains its co-founder and Creative Director. Alongside thatgamecompany’s critically-acclaimed reviews and multiple honors including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, D.I.C.E Awards and Game Developers Choice Awards, the studio’s works have been featured in exhibitions across the world including the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and the Smithsonian.  To date, Chen has been named one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Innovators to Watch” and given the prestigious honor of being named to the MIT Technology Review Magazine’s “World’s Top Innovators under the Age of 35” list in 2008.  Fast Company also profiled him as one of the “Most Creative Entrepreneurs in Business” in 2009 and 2010, in addition to being listed in their “Most Creative People in Business 1000” list in 2014.
  • Noah Falstein has been developing games since 1980. Among the first ten employees at LucasArts Entertainment, The 3DO Company, and Dreamworks Interactive, he also ran his own design and production firm, The Inspiracy for 17 years.  He has contributed to a wide range of entertainment and serious game titles, and has been a long-time supporter of Games for Change.  Currently he is Chief Game Designer at Google, working in a new team at their Mountain View HQ.

    There will also be keynote presentations by world’s leading researchers who are harnessing gaming to advance their respective fields, like health, economics and education:

  • Dan Ariely, PhD is dedicated to exploring questions about human behavior in order to help people live more sensible, if not rational, lives. In addition to appointments at the Fuqua School of Business, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Department of Economics, and the School of Medicine at Duke University, Ariely is also a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, and the author of The New York Times’ bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.
  • Adam Gazzaley, PhD obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, after completing clinical residency in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He is the founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the UC San Francisco, an Associate Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, and Principal Investigator of a cognitive neuroscience laboratory. His laboratory studies neural mechanisms of perception, attention and memory, with an emphasis on the impact of distraction and multitasking on these abilities. Dr. Gazzaley has authored over 80 scientific articles, and delivered over 300 invited presentations around the world. Recently, he wrote and hosted the nationally televised, PBS-sponsored special “The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley.” Awards and honors for his research include the Pfizer/AFAR Innovations in Aging Award, the Ellison Foundation New Scholar Award in Aging, and the Harold Brenner Pepinsky Early Career Award in Neurobehavioral Science.

  • Deborah Estrin, PhD is a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech in New York City and a Professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is co-founder of the non-profit startup Open mHealth and was previously on faculty at UCLA and Founding Director of the NSF Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS). Estrin is a pioneer in networked sensing, which uses mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world and the people who occupy it. Estrin’s current focus is on mobile health (mhealth), leveraging the programmability, proximity, and pervasiveness of mobile devices and the cloud for health management. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
  • Zoran Popovic, PhD is an Associate Professor in computer science at University of Washington. He received a Sc.B. with Honors from Brown University, and M.S. and Ph.D in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. Popovic's research interests lie in computer graphics and interactive games research, focusing on scientific discovery through game play, learning games, high-fidelity human modeling and animation, and control of realistic natural motion.  He recently led the team that produced Foldit, a biochemistry game whose outcomes are now published in Nature.  His contributions to the field of computer graphics have been recently recognized by a number of awards including the NSF CAREER Award, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and ACM SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher Award.

Additional speakers also include:

  • Paolo Pedercini (Founder of Molleindustria)
  • Mary Flanagan (Director of the Tiltfactor Lab)
  • Josh Larson (Game designer, That Dragon, Cancer)
  • Dean Karlan (World expert in developmental economics, Yale University)

The 11th Annual Games for Change Festival will also feature a public design challenge for an interactive game around the SpaceIL mission, sponsored by the Schusterman Family Foundation. The game will capture comprehensive real-world data that will enable Space IL, an Israel-based nonprofit organization that is a frontrunner in the Google Lunar X Prize, to land a spacecraft on the moon by 2015. The game will allow the SpaceIL team to learn about potential new designs and orbits from online players that were able to land a virtual spaceship in the game.

Three finalists will present their ideas on stage in front of attendees, potential funders, and a juried panel, and the winning team with the most innovative proposal will receive a grand prize of $25,000. The winning team will have the opportunity to collaborate further with SpaceIL on their mission to the moon. 

Tickets are currently on sale. For details on available ticket packages, including 20% discount offers if you register before February 28, visit