GamesBeat Summit 2024: Shedding light on the positive effects of games

GamesBeat held its eighth Women in Gaming Breakfast, presented by Xsolla, at this year’s GamesBeat Summit event, where a panel of professionals spoke about an issue concerning the games industry.

This year, our four professionals — I was moderating — spoke about the positive changes that games are bringing to the world and the capacity for games to spread joy. The talk also shed light on gaming communities and how gaming’s influence is spreading to adjacent industries. (Check out our GamesBeat Next 2024 event on October 28-29 in San Francisco).

Our panelists were Susanna Pollack, the president of Games for Change; Jen Premisler, SVP, Global Digital and Fintech Commercialization at MasterCard; Karla Reyes, the founder and studio director at Anima Interactive; and Bryna Dabby Smith, CEO of Brass Lion Entertainment. All four panelists spoke about positive aspects of the industry from their different perspectives, and the consensus was that games offered a communal storytelling experience that can’t be found in any other industry.

Premisler noted that her company, MasterCard, is not a games-first company, but that her interactions with the gaming sphere had always been welcoming and friendly. “The gaming community brings one really novel skillset and capability in the storytelling, and in connecting communities of all ages, all genders, all backgrounds and ethnicities and is inclusive to all in a way that a lot of other industries don’t naturally… We might be corporate, but we also have those same values.”

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Community and storytelling: How gaming brings everyone together

Pollack said that one positive effect for games is their reach beyond entertainment — though she noted that entertainment was important as well — and that was an important tenet of Games for Change. “There are games being made for the classroom to teach kids on subjects or other social-emotional skills. Games are being used in healthcare to help rehabilitations.

Games are being used by humanitarian organizations to raise awareness about critical global problems. Those kind of games can and should be made with this cross-sector collaboration, by bringing in subject matter experts who have that content knowledge and pairing them with the talent we have in the games industry.”

Reyes noted the recent tumult within the games industry but added that game creators have unique opportunities to look for new ways to create stories and draw on new inspiration.

“There are all different impact pillars to consider, and thinking critically about who the subject matter expert is and bringing them into the game development process is really important,” Reyes said. “We talk about diversity and inclusion and how representation is important, but just because I’m a Latina woman doesn’t mean that I can tell the story of any Latino person. That’s important as well as we think about the approach to creating story and content.”

Smith added that creators have not only the opportunity to create change, but a responsibility to do so. “We have the ear of the next generation, and we’re building experiences for them. As such, it’s important that we show them all of the things they can be and do.”

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