Wednesday, June 04, 2008

AMD Foundation Launches “AMD Changing the Game”

Earlier this week AMD announced the launch of "AMD Changing the Game", the first initiative of the newly formed AMD Foundation.

The AMD Changing the Game program is intended to improve critical technical and life skills by teaching kids to develop digital games with social content. The program is rooted in AMD’s commitment and experience in supporting education with the company’s passion and expertise in the gaming industry. The program’s launch accompanies AMD’s sponsorship and participation at the Fifth Annual Games for Change Festival to be held June 3 - 4 at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.

AMD Changing the Game is a natural fit for AMD, which features products powering the visual experience of the two most popular gaming consoles in the world today1 and which recently launched AMD GAME!, a program designed to help consumers select perfectly suited PCs for high-definition gaming.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to harness the passion that kids have for gaming while teaching the skills they need to be successful in our 21st Century digital economy,” said Dirk Meyer, AMD president and chief operating officer.

In addition to technical skills such as science, technology, engineering and math, digital games can be used to help teach youth how to be more engaged citizens, to see conflict from another’s viewpoint and find positive ways to respond to challenging social issues such as poverty, hunger, disease, energy conservation, water use and global warming.

“Today’s youth are highly concerned about social issues and the current generation of youth gamers is among the most socially conscious in history,” said Suzanne Seggerman, co-founder and president of Games for Change. “The movement toward educating and engaging youth through digital games for change not only raises awareness of the importance of social issues, but gives youth an opportunity to make a difference. As this movement continues to build momentum, we believe that partnerships and grant support from leading technology companies like AMD will be critical to its success.”

Through AMD Changing the Game, AMD Foundation grants will go to nonprofit organizations that inspire young people learn while creating games with social content. Employees will also support the initiative through volunteer opportunities. In its pilot year, the following organizations will be funded:

  • Girlstart, is an Austin, TX-based nonprofit organization created to empower middle and high school girls to excel in math, science, and technology. In the summer of 2008, the AMD Foundation’s grant will enable 60 Girlstart participants to attend a program focused on games with social content. As a capstone project, girls will be creating a social awareness event in Teen Second Life, a virtual gathering place for teens 13-17 all over the world to make friends, play, learn and create. The Girlstart team will identify a social issue of importance to them and create an event in Teen Second Life that will help raise awareness and inspire action around the issue.
  • Global Kids, is a Brooklyn, NY-based nonprofit organization that seeks to transform urban youth into successful students and global and community leaders. Through its grant to Global Kids’ Playing for Keeps program, AMD has joined The Microsoft Corporation in enabling 20 young people from underserved communities to work with game developers to develop, create and distribute a game about the heroic role of residents following Hurricane Katrina. Last year, young people worked with developers in the Playing for Keeps program to create the game Ayiti: The Cost of Life which allows players to assume the role of impoverished people living in rural Haiti with the goal of meeting some key health, education and quality of life challenges.
  • Institute for Urban Game Design, is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills through the hands-on creation of digital games. Beginning in the summer of 2008, the AMD Foundation’s grant will enable IUGD participants to apply their learning in 3-D modeling, animation and computer programming to the development of a game focused on the issue of energy usage. Students will learn about and explore the social issues associated with different types of energy.
  • Science Buddies is a national, non-profit organization based in California's Silicon Valley offering a variety of web-based tools that help K-12 students explore science through research-based projects often done at Science Fairs and other school and community events. AMD Foundation’s grant will enable Science Buddies to launch a Video and Computer Games Interest Area on its site aimed at helping students understand and practice what is required to design digital games. AMD volunteers will work with Science Buddies staff scientists to develop project ideas to spark student interest in exploring topics such as human behavior in games, ergonomics, game design and programming and the incorporation of social or educational content in games.

As part of launching the Games for Change Festival, the AMD Foundation, in partnership with the John G. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is sponsoring “Let the Games Begin,” a day-long workshop for nonprofit organizations focusing on how to create social issue games. The workshop will feature interactive lectures by some of the nation’s leading authorities on social issue game development and cover fundamentals such as game design, fundraising, evaluation, youth participation, distribution and press strategies.

Following the Festival, the AMD Foundation and Games for Change plan to co-produce a how-to digital toolkit for nonprofits that includes examples of games with social content, interviews with key experts and additional guidance for nonprofits creating social issue games for the first time.

AMD is also working with PETLab, a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The News School, to create a social issue game development curriculum for youth. The curriculum is expected to be piloted in the fall of 2008.

For more information about AMD Changing the Game, including a video and other materials, visit Also visit AMD Unprocessed on Facebook for additional information and regular updates.

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