New Accelerator Aims For Social Change With AR, VR, Gaming Startups

Games for Change, a non-profit that promotes the use of games and immersive technology for social good, is taking applications from startup teams for a new accelerator program it’s launching in New York City.

New York-based Games for Change already encourages game and XR developers, by a variety of means, to build societal benefits into their designs. The organization, founded in 2004, holds an annual festival with demos, workshops, and training sessions, and also operates awards programs and student design challenges, for example. Now the non-profit is teaming up with social impact investment firm i(x) investments and venture capital firm Quake Capital on Games for Change Accelerator, which will welcome its first cohort of startup founders in September.

The four-month accelerator program will be held at Quake Capital’s New York offices, but Games for Change is throwing the launch party for the new initiative in San Francisco on Thursday in a South of Market restaurant, during the big Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Center, the city’s sprawling conference venue. The new accelerator will accept applications from across the globe—and the Bay Area, which hosts a dense community of game developers, virtual reality studios, and augmented reality companies, isn’t a bad place to get the word out.

Founding teams accepted to Games for Change Accelerator will be offered seed funding in the range of $150,000 to $500,000 in exchange for an equity stake in their companies, in amounts determined on a case by case basis, according to the program’s Web page. The perks also include free office space, mentorship, contacts with industry experts, introductions to potential backers, and a Demo Day where participants can pitch their projects to VCs, angel investors, and representatives of family offices.

The program will run two sessions per year, and accept a total of 10 or more founding teams each year, according to the website. Applications for the inaugural session will be accepted until May 31, and notifications of acceptance will go out during the summer.

The accelerator’s ten-member leadership team includes Trevor Neilson, co-founder and CEO of i(x) investments, Glenn Argenbright, founding partner at Quake Capital, and Games for Change President Susanna Pollack.

Impact investment company i(x) investments was co-founded in 2015 by Neilson, the i(x) CEO, and Howard Buffett, a grandson of renowned investor Warren Buffett, founder of the mammoth business holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Howard Buffett, who has held government posts, is also an associate professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.

The design of the Games for Change Accelerator is similar to the ongoing seed-stage accelerator programs operated by Quake Capital for startups from all industries.

Games for Change advocates for the invention of games and immersive environments that draw people into experiences to motivate or empower them to work for the public good. Two games featured on its site are Activate, which teaches young people how to be activists in their communities, and 3rd World Farmer, which simulates the experience of operating a farm with straitened means, in order to build understanding of those challenges.

Image credit: Depositphotos

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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