Computer gaming is arguably the most powerful and influential communications media of our time. More money is spent and made in the video game industry than all other media combined. The recent E3 convention in Los Angeles supports this theory. The conference, where the world’s heavyweights in the game industry came together to demonstrate “what’s next,” showed that without a doubt, gaming and game hardware serve an integral part of the media and society.

As Captain of the Game Design category for Imagine Cup 2010, I’ve had the privilege of working with the students participating in the Games competition, and seeing the creations they’ve submitted to help raise awareness of the problems facing the world. These students are some of the most passionate people I’ve met in my 20-year career with projects whose “cool-factor” rivals the students’ passion.

The sheer variety of games – all submitted under the overarching Imagine Cup theme of helping people see a world where technology makes a difference – was, I’ll admit, overwhelming. Different game genres, play styles, myriad graphical and art directions, and creative interfaces meant that approaching this was a judging challenge; but it also turned out to be a joy. Just looking at the six finalists, the games include platformers, puzzle games and 3D action titles covering topics such as environment, education and teamwork and come from Asia, Europe and South America. More than 400 teams of enthusiastic, like-minded students from around the world created games that can help influence the current generation to consider and positively change the world in which they live.

For the Imagine Cup 2010 Game Design competition, the hundreds of applicants who participated in this category took the concept of a video game an extra step further and challenged the players of their games to change the world, whether it be via the environment, health, education or global partnerships between countries in need.

In just a few weeks, the elite six teams representing countries all over the globe will gather in Warsaw, Poland for the Worldwide Finals, to show off their games to the judges and public alike to determine who will be crowned the champion game design team for Imagine Cup 2010. The six games are phenomenal and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with for their final presentations in Poland.

Games can not only entertain, but make an impact on individuals and the societies in which they live.

If you’d like to learn more about the games competing in Imagine Cup 2010, I encourage you to check out the forums on the Imagine Cup website (www.imaginecup.com) or check out this DeepZoom mash-up of the complete semi-finalist list of games: http://eventr.cloudapp.net/default.aspx?guid=2324787d-b5b9-4071-b652-fb28f9d6c48c designed by Aussie company Xamling (www.xamling.net). Another great application to check out is the new Bing Maps App that shows the competitors, judges and captains for the five main categories of competition, created by another great Aussie company SoulSolutions(www.soulsolutions.com.au). You can access the map app here: http://tinyurl.com/ic2010mapapp

 

(Note that this post has also been posted here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2010/06/29/imagine-cup-2010-games-could-change-the-world.aspx )