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Games for Change honors Gordon Bellamy of USC Games and Gay Gaming Professionals

Games For Change is honoring educator Gordon Bellamy with its prestigious Vanguard Award for his position as a recreation business chief and LGBTQ+​ champion.

Games For Change is a nonprofit that runs the sport convention and pageant, selling the facility of video games for social influence. It takes place on July 14 to July 16, and Bellamy will likely be honored on the G4C Awards Ceremony 4:30 p.m. Pacific time on July 14. Humble Bundle may even obtain the inaugural G4C Giving Award for its fundraising efforts for charities.

Bellamy is a visiting scholar at USC Games and the CEO of Gay Gaming Professionals. He’s a boisterous fellow that I used to run into continuously at recreation business occasions (once they had been nonetheless taking place), and he all the time had an enormous smile and bubbly issues to say. I’ve additionally discovered that he has a severe facet, and that is among the causes he’s getting the award.

Susanna Pollack, the president of Games for Change, mentioned in an interview with GamesBeat that the group has a historical past of honoring teachers who do analysis or different impactful issues that profit the entire business. Bellamy has executed these issues in addition to made a distinction for individuals in underserved communities, she mentioned.

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Bellamy has performed key enterprise and product management roles at Tencent, Electronic Arts, as a designer on Madden NFL Football (again within the 1990s), and at MTV. He has additionally served as government director of each the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and the International Game Developers Association.

“It is rewarding to honor Gordon Bellamy, who comes into the community with a different background and is equally as impactful as our other recipients,” she mentioned. “I’ve been aware of Gordon and his presence in games for many years. He was a developer and worked on the corporate side, and he worked on the nonprofit side for AIAS and the IGDA and now with Gay Gaming Professionals. He is a unique individual who straddles so many of the stakeholders who are part of the Games For Change community.”

She added, “Everything he has done in his career has been driving inclusivity and accessibility within the games industry. That speaks well to the spirit of Games For Change. We see ourselves as a convener, as we’re all about bringing people together from different perspectives. That’s something Gordon has done, perhaps unintentionally. That’s just who he is. I hope his energy will be inspiring to others.”

At the award ceremony, Games for Change may even current Microsoft with the Industry Leadership award and unveil the winners for “best of” video games in addition to the “G4C People’s Choice” award, offered by Facebook Gaming.

Past winners of the Vanguard Award embody Lindsay Grace of the University of Miami, Constance Steinkuehler of the University of California at Irvine, Katie Salen of the University of California at Irvine, and onetime Gamasutra blogger Mary Flanagan.

I spoke with Bellamy about his profession and mission. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Gordon Bellamy is the winner of the 2020 Vanguard Award from Games For Change.

Image Credit: Games For Change

GamesBeat: Congratulations on the award. It’s a significant one, for a complete profession of caring about issues. How do you’re feeling about this one?

Gordon Bellamy: What a tremendous checklist of individuals. Katie Salen. Lindsay Grace simply gained it this previous yr. These are all those that encourage, who’re so significant of their giving to others, to afford alternatives for others. That’s what is exclusive about this award to me is that it’s about what you do to assist different individuals get from level A to level B. The work of utilizing your expertise in service to others, in educating and non-profits. It’s humbling.

When I take a look at the individuals who gained this earlier than, and what they’ve executed in tutorial circles and what they’ve executed in crucial fascinated about video games, and in affording different individuals the chance to care about video games in new methods, it’s a privilege to be even thought-about to be a nominee. It’s nice to get the award, however even to have been on the identical checklist — they’re all superior, what they’re doing. I’m nonetheless busy, nonetheless making an attempt to study from them about the right way to greatest carry up our craft.

Early years

GamesBeat: I did marvel about one fascinating level right here. When you had been younger and beginning this profession in video games, how centered had been you on the profession? At what level did you’re feeling such as you had extra of a mission?

Bellamy: It’s humorous. I used to be EA’s rookie of the yr in 1994. I’ve slightly trophy, slightly baseball bat. Games have all the time been a part of my id. Because they supply a framework. You expertise this now on the earth, the place everyone seems to be searching for frameworks for fairness, frameworks the place the foundations are the identical. We’re having to navigate challenges in the identical manner, after which do the work, play the sport. For so long as I can bear in mind, video games have all the time been part of who I used to be. Not simply one thing that I did.

It’s humorous you talked about the mission. Last week we had our Gay Gaming Professionals Pride occasion with about 20 hours of programming. We honored Danielle Bunten Berry [an early game designer at Electronic Arts who transitioned to being a woman] there. She’s a part of my story as a result of I truly lived along with her in company housing after I went out to EA. The manner I bought my first gig was by chilly calling. I known as the individuals engaged on NHL hockey from my dorm room. The man who picked up the cellphone was a man named Jim Simmons, who turned out to be the mistaken Jim Simmons, however the appropriate one for me. He picked up the cellphone for me to get on the market and take my tester take a look at at EA. Point being, I bought to reconnect with him now 27 years later, this previous weekend. It provides you perspective. Whoa, this has been a minute.

As far as focus, after I bought into video games — the dream, in fact, was EA Sports. Those video games had been so unimaginable, so evocative. I’d all the time beloved sports activities video games. You ever play electrical soccer, the steel board that vibrates? I beloved it. I had each crew. I had like 4 units of Cowboys, house and away. Every participant on the Cowboys. I had the little stickers. I used to be deep into Strat-o-Matic. When Madden and people different video games got here out, or the one with the trackball within the arcade, that was what I wished to do.

Above: Gordon Bellamy of USC and Asra Rasheed communicate on a panel on range at GamesBeat 2015.

Image Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat

GamesBeat: So you had been all about sports activities. Were you an athlete?

Bellamy: I’m fairly good at desk tennis? But I lined sports activities. I wrote for the Harvard Crimson. I had a column known as “In Gord We Trust.” I used to be all the time extra into, again then, how individuals may take pleasure in sports activities between the video games. Whether that be journalism, whether or not that be video video games. Because soccer solely occurred on Sunday and Monday again then. What occurs the remainder of the week? Video video games. That mattered to me. That introduced me on the market.

We made a studio, Z-Axis, that ended up being Activision Foster City, the primary time, earlier than the Sledgehammer days. Then I crossed over into the enterprise facet, which was about serving to builders. I went to THQ. The identical manner that people at EA helped me as a developer and helped us as a studio, the profession grew to become about giving that again. You see all the opposite gigs. It was THQ, Spike Video Game Awards, DICE Summit, IGDA, they’re actually all the identical factor. This imaginative and prescient of how we are able to afford builders the prospect for extra in life. Tencent, too. How will we assist builders span the globe in a significant manner?

In educating, I’ll share with you what introduced me to USC. I had a lunch with Tracy Fullerton. Hall of Famer. She’s so superb at affording our subsequent technology the prospect to be nearly as good as they are often. I centered on three issues. I need younger individuals to have the ability to discover jobs. I need them to have the ability to personal their time, their very own enterprise, their entrepreneurship. And I nonetheless have a dream, which is, think about a Rhodes Scholar program round video games, the place the perfect and brightest from world wide coming to USC. We may assault points reminiscent of starvation or pandemics.

Imagine if there was a recreation now that might assist individuals perceive social distancing in a constructive manner. Not a judging manner, a detrimental reinforcement manner, however simply one thing we may play, like Animal Crossing. Something individuals like doing, so as to enable individuals to be included within the discourse.

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