Last week, New York Film Academy NY Chair of Animation & Game Design Phoebe Elefante hosted the first ever Pitch Contest Game for participants of Revolutionary Learning 2016. The conference, which took place at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel, focused on innovation in game-based learning – a sizable, and very profitable sector of the larger game industry.
The conference featured a long list of influencers in the GBL space, kicking off with legendary keynote speaker Ian Livingstone (founder of Eidos, the company that created Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), and concluding with an inspirational talk by Rebecca Rufo-Tepper (game-learning evangelist and Program Director for the Institute of Play). Other featured speakers included NYC locals Nicholas Fortugno of Playmatics, Scott Brewster of Electric Funstuff, Jordan Shapiro Senior Fellow at Sesame Workshop, and Justin Leites, President of Amplify.
The Pitch Contest Game, designed and run by Ms. Elefante and NYFA NY Game Design alumna Nina Mirhabibi, guided participants through a game concept development process, which resulted in a short pitch presentation to the audience and an illustrious panel of judges, which included: Dr. Elena Bertozzi (founder of the Engender Games Group at Quinnipiac University), Michael Gi (Play Designer at BrainPOP), and Bert Snow (VP of Design at Muzzy Lane Software). The panel also featured a student judge, Mickell Ford Jr., member of Mouse.org and starting freshman in the Design and Technology program at Parsons. The winning team created a game called Amor Vincit Omnia, designed to teach ethics to students in middle school and up. The Crowd Favorite award was given to the team that created Pitch Deck, a game for MBA students and aspiring entrepreneurs that aims to bring humor to the high pressure investor pitch.
“We designed the Pitch Contest Game to bring conference participants together, encourage collaboration, have fun, and design games. None of the players knew each other at the beginning, and all of the teams have plans to continue development of their concepts into playable games,” said Ms. Elefante. “That’s a big win.” All of the activities and design documentation used to help participants design their games are now available on the Revolutionary Learning Blog.
The educational games market in the US is estimated at $1.5 billion. According to Ms. Elefante, NYFA students aren’t required to make learning games, but “I always encourage our students to consider the marketplace — there are countless opportunities for game designers and developers if you know where to look.”
Unlike other top game design schools, NYFA’s Game Design School offers a course that challenges students to lead their own Game Studio with two other classmates. Throughout the semester, students receive coding support and mentorship from professional game programmers, developers, and instructors. This focused effort and unique approach of pairing students with professionals allows students to create their own digital game by the end of the semester.