Contagious – The Pitch Pt. 1 – The FaceBook Game

As is common in the serious game industry these days, we were asked to pitch a product as part of an RFP that I won’t name specifically (but should be easy to figure out if you use your brain).  The project was to be an awareness campaign in association with an upcoming movie release.  We jumped at the bid because there were two passions around here that fit perfect into a game idea that came to us right away.  My passion for wanting a facebook game to exist that had an actual narrative arc, a beginning and an end, and a sensor game that we had wanted to do for a conference that didn’t work out. In the end, the game(s) weren’t produced and we retained the IP around the idea, making it possible for me to freely post it here – more to come on that in later posts on the business side of it all.  (Another caveat – this was done over a year ago so some ideas may not seem as novel now and changes to Facebook may have made this whole thing impossible as designed.)

Attached is a Slideshare of the actual pitch that we made for the game.  I promise at some point to add narration to the slides so you get the talking points, but I think most you should be able to follow along the basic design concepts.

The high level game ideas that made it interesting to me were:

a) It was more cooperative in terms of shared resources and meaningful actions between you and your friends and the community at large, not just using them for things in your separate worlds,

b) it translated your actual networks and groups into game variables i.e. more exposure points balanced by access to more resources – translation: the rest of your facebook world has an actual impact, substituting your real world social and geographical exposure points for digital networks etc. etc. ( interesting outcomes would have been people leaving groups to avoid higher exposure rates etc – one of our guys here is a fan of some 500 things, we figured he would be dead in a week),

c) tie-ins to educational actions in the real world that aren’t just to get points to use but actually related relatively one to one to the game actions (more on this in a later expansion to the design),

d) interesting statistical and visualization options,

e) and on the personal – due to my frustration with never ending, never winnable, or losable games on facebook – the ability for you to die in the game, ending your active experience tied in with a legit win state for the community: “eradication.”

You will see at the end of the presentation the other bonus item we threw in related to how cool would it be to have had a location game/experiece at the red carpet opening.  I will address this more in the next post as it is relevant to the ongoing narrative of the pitch progression as well.

Play the Election 2012: Going Live With Play the News Election Edition

We have had the amazing opportunity to partner with Rand McNally to launch, free to schools and educators, an election version of Play the News for the 2012 US Presidential Election.

You can go straight to the site here.

And view the Press Release here.

This was a great opportunity to do a lot of things we have wanted to do for a long time. Over the years we have conducted a lot of outreach to schools and foundations because we think Play the News could be great for the classroom. We have also heard from many of you educators out there requesting the opportunity to use it in you classes.  Here is our chance to find out if it is as great as we all hoped.  Sorry to the rest of you Play the News fans since this version is specifically set up for educators and students, but hopefully if this is successful enough (with your help) we can leverage it into partnerships and opportunities that will help us bring back the open to all broad news topics platform.

Inside you will find all kinds of extra teacher resources to help integrate this into your classroom or community including the opportunity to create your own game stories. Stay tuned as I hope to hold a couple webinars down the line to interested teachers on the game creation process.

ImpactGames Refresh

The overhaul of the ImpactGames web-site was long over due.  My complete lack of blog posts over the last couple years has also been a source of shame for me.  So, I am happy to say that I am going to remedy both of those situations with the announcement of our new site as well as a rapid fire publishing of several blog posts highlighting some of the other projects we have been working on over the last couple years.  I realize this is not the proper way to maintain an active blog but it’s a start.  We look forward to hearing your thoughts on some of our new projects and ideas.

ImpactGames at DevLearn 2010

DevLearn is right around the corner!  We’ve been busy working on a few items for the conference that allow you to play and learn.

First up, we’re proud to be sponsoring an instance of BackChatter, the fantastic twitter game created by Local No. 12 which premiered at the Games Developer Conference last year. BackChatter allows players to place “bets” on words that are used in tweets marked with the conference hashtag. It’s a super-fast, easy and slightly addictive way to engage in the conference. Plus we’ll be giving away prizes to each round winner as well as the finalists! The first place overall winner will receive a Premium Membership to The eLearning Guild!!!

DevLearn site: DevLearn10

BackChatter site:

Secondly, Kris Rockwell, ImpactGames CEO, will be presenting at the Serious Games Zone on Play the News and the idea of using gaming as a way to present news media and create a rich experience for users. As part of this, Kris will give a preview of the updated version of Play the News and show the game in action. Kris will also be speaking as part of the Mobile Learning Jam, covering a variety of topics from development to games on mobile devices.

As always, if you want to talk to us about ARG’s, mobile learning or Serious Games and how they can help your organization, just send an email to Alexi Morrissey at or send him a tweet at @hybridlex and we’ll be happy to setup a time to talk to you.

We look forward to seeing you at DevLearn 2010.

Changes at ImpactGames

I wanted to write to our community to update you all about a significant event for ImpactGames.

We have recently sold our award-winning PeaceMaker and Play the News platforms to Hybrid Learning Systems.  They have also taken over the ImpactGames brand so that our products could enjoy a seamless transition into their company.

This is a bitter-sweet moment for us as a company as we were not able to maintain the necessary resources to see our vision through.  However, on the positive side we believe we created products with meaning and value that found a good home for their future.

Hybrid Learning Systems has both the resources to carry on where we left off and new skills that will take them beyond.  They share our vision and mission for the possibilities that our work represents and are committed to taking them to new places.

While ImpactGames in its current form is not moving on, as many of you know our co-founder Asi Burak has since become the Co-President of Games4Change, I am happy to announce that I have accepted a position with Hybrid Learning Systems.

Feel free to visit this link for the formal announcement about the acquisition: Press Release

And with that I would like to introduce to you Kris Rockwell CEO of Hybrid Learning Systems who wanted to add a few words to this post.  I am sure you will be seeing more from him in the future.

Eric Brown
CVO, ImpactGames

Kris Rockwell’s words:

“The acquisition of the ImpactGames assets was unexpected but very welcome.  Peacemaker alone is an important game covering a very delicate issue and both Eric and Asi have created an amazing work that more that speaks for itself.

Undoubtedly we have some very big shoes to fill. It is our intention to continue to grow the Peacemaker platform and continue to support its existing user base. We are very honored and excited to be a part of this process.

We are very pleased that Eric has agreed to join us as Chief Visionary Officer of ImpactGames. His vision, experience and remarkable talent will help us continue to grow and keep on the path that he has set with his work.

I am very pleased to be working with Eric and look forward to growing ImpactGames while continuing to keep it on the path of socially responsible gaming. It’s very exciting to keep such an important effort in the Pittsburgh area and I look forward to talking with the existing user community over the next few months.”


Kris Rockwell
CEO, ImpactGames

PeaceMaker: Launching the Educator Community

I am writing to announce the launch of a PeaceMaker Educator Forum.  We have now had over 2 years of teachers and students playing PeaceMaker.  Over these 2 years we have had many inquiries from teachers, researchers, and even prestigious press organizations as to how the use of PeaceMaker has contributed to classroom and out of classroom learning.  Who better to answer these questions then those of you who are teachers and students.

We would be very grateful if you could quickly answer the following relevant survey.  I promise you that it is a very short survey and will only take a couple moments of your time.

Educator Survey

Student Survey

The goal of this outreach is to create a central repository and community where you can share with each other all of the different ways that PeaceMaker can be used to enrich learning and community initiatives, provide testimonials to promote the use of PeaceMaker in and out of the classroom, and create a list of individuals that are willing to be contacted by peers and press.  We would love for you to visit the Forum at forum(dot)impactgames(dot)com (sorry for not hyperlinking it but it has started to be apammed), and even better to contribute your own testimonials and lesson plans for others to learn from.

We greatly appreciate your continued support.

Play the News – Call for Partners

We have recently outlined two new projects that ImpactGames would love to pursue.  Based on multiple discussions we have had with leaders in the educational space and our own internal experience with creating content for both ourselves and clients we feel there is a timely and genuine potential for the use of our Play the News Platform as a teaching and training tool.  We welcome you to review the following proposals:

(1) Play the News in the classroom (K-12) – A proposal that focuses on the creation of educational modules for a range of subjects: 

Download Educational Proposal Here

(2) Play the News to teach new media journalism – A proposal that focuses on teaching new forms of journalism and discussing the future of interactive journalism:

Download Journalism Education Proposal Here

As always we are continuing our discussions with media outlets and content providers that are looking to broaden their digital and community offerings.  You can view our media partner presentation here:

Download Media Partner Proposal Here

We are also open to other creative applications and ideas on how our work can be integrated with other efforts.  We hope that these proposals will serve as a starting point for discussions.

PeaceMaker: An Index Award Finalist

We are excited to announce that PeaceMaker, our first game, was selected as a finalist in the prestigious contest INDEX: Design to Improve Life.  

The INDEX organization was founded by the Danish Government under the patronage of HRH The Crown Prince and is regarded as one of the biggest design awards in the world. Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX: explains, “INDEX:’s mission is to ensure more Design to Improve Life of higher quality in the world. Therefore we inspire, collect, advocate, communicate, evaluate, connect and discuss Design to Improve Life globally.”

The finalist’s works will be presented in a touring exhibition that premieres in August 2009 in Copenhagen and travels throughout Denmark and Internationally.  The award is given to winners in five categories – Body, Home, Work, Play and Community (all to be announced August 28).  Among other finalists in the Play category are Nike Trash Talk, City Invader and the Recycle Factory.  You can view all of the finalists here.

PTN Wins the Knight Foundation Award for News Gaming

We are very honored that Play The News won the First Knight News Game Award.  The winner was announced at the Games for Change Annual Festival last week.  According to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation the award “honors the best of this exciting new genre: games which are journalistic and strengthen people’s ability to make decisions in a democracy.”  You can read the full press release here.

We really hope that this great recognition will support our current effort in finding new educational partners and venues for the use of the platform.  The other finalists who were honored at the event are the Budget Maze by the Gotham Gazette, Hurricane Katrina: Tempest in Crescent City by Global Kids and September 12th, the iconic news game created by Gonzalo Frasca and his team that many attribute to coining the phrase “newsgaming”.

PeaceMaker: Deactivation and Reactivation Functionality

In answer to many people’s comments and support issues we are pleased to provide our customers with this new functionality. The patch below will work for anyone purchasing a copy of PeaceMaker that does not already have integrated this new functionality. We understand everyones desire to be able to have flexibility with software they purchase and we are glad to finally provide that. This should also make it easier for educational institutions that are continuously re-imaging their computer labs.

New Patch: Deactivation and Reactivation Functionality
We have recently added new functionality to allow our users to deactivate and reactivate copies of PeaceMaker in order to move them from computer to computer. Please be sure to use the deactivation tool before uninstalling. If you own the online version (v1.068 and earlier) or the CD version (physical copy) feel free to install this patch for PC or Mac. You do not need this patch if you own a later version of PeaceMaker. DO NOT use this patch if you have the Peres Center version.