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Video games for a better tomorrow

One video game immerses the player in the delicate ecosystem where ants struggle to survive. Another demonstrates how to navigate the complex public transit system of Colombia's capital. And a third challenges players to navigate hazards migrants face as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

These are just three games competing for awards in the annual Games for Change Festival in New York City. The annual fest, now in its 11th year, showcases video games that are designed to have a "social impact."

Here are the eight games competing in categories such as "most significant impact," "most innovative" and "best gameplay." The festival runs through Saturday, April 26.


Students control leafcutter ants as they struggle to
Photo Credit: Preloaded

Students control leafcutter ants as they struggle to survive in a delicate ecosystem. Players collect fresh green leaves — "the lifeblood of the colony" — as they control three ant castes: soldiers, foragers and miners.

Papers, Please

Descriptions of
Photo Credit: Lucas Pope

Descriptions of "Papers, Please" read like a video game thriller — for good reason. As an immigration inspector in the fictional country of Arstotzka, the player is tasked with deciding who may or may not be entered or be arrested. Check out the trailer.

The Migrant Trail

Photo Credit: Gigantic Mechanic

"The Migrant Trail" is based on a documentary about the hazards that migrants face as they traverse the U.S.-Mexico border. Players can be migrants or patrol officers. Play the game.

Start The Talk

Photo Credit: Kognito

"Start the Talk" is aimed at sparking conversation between parents and their children about underage drinking. It was developed for the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Play it online.

Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey


"It's 1866. You are Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy. Can you help your tribe survive life on the Plains?" This is how players are introduced to "A Cheyenne Odyssey," a production of WNET, American Social History Project and Electric Funstuff. Play it online.

Súbete al SITP

The goal of
Photo Credit: 12 HitCombo

The goal of "Subete al SITP" is to teach players how to navigate the public transportation system in Bogotá, Colombia, while respecting the rules of the road. The game is available for iPhone and Android phones, as well as over the web. Play the game.


Photo Credit: Robin Arnott

"Soundself" has a lofty goal: to take advantage of "loopholes in human perception to induce an introspective state of ecstasy." No drugs required. Windows or Mac only. Preview it here.

Gone Home

Photo Credit: The Fullbright Co.

"You arrive home after a year abroad. You expect your family to greet you, but the house is empty... Where is everyone?" This is the premise of "Gone Home," a moody game that seems drenched in shadows. Multiple platforms, trailer.


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