This past weekend, I attended the 2012 Community Leadership Summit (CLS), an un-conference before OSCON, dedicated to elevating the practice of nurturing open communities. I had the opportunity to share our vision of Portland Games for Change in a lightning talk, and I’d like to bring some of that back out to our communities.
First, I’m starting Pixel Arts, a social entrepreneurship, to create positive change in the world. Our guiding vision is that we should be helping groups address social and economic issues through game development, education and investment.
We’ve seen our libraries disappear and our arts and sciences programs close in the face of budget collapses. We also see the dramatic impact of this on kids and adults in everyday life, and the chasm of the digital divide yawns widely for so many learners without these programs.
Second, our vision of positive change about games is one of many in Portland, and over the last year, I’ve met wonderfully passionate community leaders pursuing visions of social good.
Despite all our connectivity, many of our communities are siloed from one another. Some of this is normal: it’s summer or it’s winter, we’re busy, we have so many competing interests, our bandwidth is limited.
Games for Change begins with this simple opportunity. How do we grow community and support these various efforts across silos? Here are some propositions:
- Silos concentrate but also isolate. Build connective tissue and an infrastructure to nurture our social ecology in vivid, fun ways.
- Building community takes more than a common interest. It requires team and execution. Build shared resources by promoting alignment and collaboration.
- The nation is not the sole or even the best way to grow. Build locally and regionally, and aspire to work trans-nationally across national boundaries.
Portland Games for Change is just starting, but we already are well on our way. Last month, Pixel Arts hosted Gaming for Social Good, a roundtable to bring together local educators, non-profits, businesses and game developers. 59 people attended the roundtable and more than 25 joined Portland Games for Change. In the last three weeks, we have grown to 79 members.
Our community is enthusiastic to do social good. Game for Change has reached our to support our affiliate and to help promote our efforts. We already have plans to support a number of projects including:
- PWNING Cancer, a charitable fundraising game tournament
- ChickTech, a signature camp for girls
- Portland Game It Forward, a game jam to work with mission-based groups on social good
- Pixel Play, a game camp for middle and high school kids
- Girl Scouts, a First Lego League and Media/Game Lab courses
More opportunities have risen from the CLS. We’re excited to talk with SocialCoding4Good and Code for America this week. We also co-hosted a session on Gaming with Paul Vorvick of Beyond the Aether, and we got to make an enthusiastic connection with Justin Houk of WhereCamp and a member of Portland’s geographic information systems community.
Our first meetup is Wed July 25th, and we invite you to join us in setting an agenda and priorities for the next year. Our hope is to create events that focalize attention and create opportunities for collaboration in the Pacific NW. Help us extend the social impact of games for world-making change here and elsewhere.