“Impact with Games” Report

ETC Press and Games for Change (G4C) are excited to release the first report of the Game Impact Project: “Impact with Games — A Fragmented Field.” The Game Impact Project is a collaboration between G4C under the leadership of Asi Burak, an advisory board chaired by Benjamin Stokes, and researchers at the Michael Cohen Group led by Gerad O’Shea.

“What evidence is there for games?” Our field answers this question in very different ways, often with fragmented and contradictory answers. The big picture would help enormously.

For the Game Impact Project, we ambitiously seek to get at the “big picture” for social impact games. Our deep goal is to improve the coherence and collaboration in how stakeholders work together, aligning creative design with evidence and research across disciplines.

We call particular attention to the incredible diversity in the types of impact that games can have. By bringing together leaders from different domains (including civic engagement theorists, learning experts, mobile health researchers, game designers etc.), we hope to stay deeply open to many kinds of impact — not just our favorite theories.

Report#1: Impact with Games — A Fragmented Field.

This is the first report in a series on game “impact types.” We begin with the problem. Our field needs a better way to talk about impact — a deeper conversation that is more fundamentally inclusive and multi-disciplinary, yet still evidence-based. This report is a first step, revealing the basic fragmentation and documenting its harm.

Not just beginners, but our best journals and public awards can inadvertently overlook full categories of impact, and disagree on what evidence looks like. Creativity is too easily and unhealthily pitted against impact design. Even the language of “double-blind trials” can ironically blind our field to certain types of impact.

Success may require new umbrella language to enable meaningful comparison and improve coherence and efficacy — especially across stakeholders. Power may need to be shared, rather than giving preference to either researchers or designers.

The primary contribution of this first report is to make five basic claims about how the field is currently fragmented, establishing a foundation for more systematic solutions. Along the way we reveal why we are talking past one another, in public and private. Our second report (forthcoming) will dive deeper into proactive solutions, as hinted in the pages that follow.

Have ideas? We are actively seeking solutions to the problems raised in our reports, as well as any feedback. You may email us directly (ideas (at) gameimpact (dot) net), or use the form at: http://gameimpact.net/get-involved/

For more information, and to download a copy, visit:



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