Earlier this week I wrote up that Ludum Dare’s latest competition results were announced and provided over 1,400 free games, but perhaps you are of a more discriminating persuasion and didn’t feel like trudging through the flea market of so many games in hope of finding a few valuables amongst the banal. Enter the Games for Change Awards.

With a stated mission of “catalyzing social impact through digital games,” Games for Change has worked with governments, organizations and individuals to employ games in areas beyond entertainment. Their 9th Games for Change Festival is coming up this June, and each year competitors enter games that are judged by a panel on how they incorporate current events and encourage engagement, make a significant social impact, to the more traditional qualities of best gameplay and innovation. Nine finalists are announced from the hundreds of entries, and winners are announced at the Festival.

This year’s nominees explore drone warfare, the DMZ between North and South Korea, and death. If you’re looking for a specific recommendation, I suggest SPENT, a game made in conjunction with Urban Ministries of Durham. Using a simple art direction that could easily be imagined as appearing on an infographic, SPENT uses low-level resource management mechanics to simulate a person trying to survive through one month with $1000, a low-wage job, and too many bills. It was pretty amazing how much some numbers and a few moving letters could make my stomach drop as I chose groceries, denied my kid field trips, and watched my cash reserves slowly drain.

All of this year’s nominated games are available here for everyone, and many more games that explore social issues are available at the Games for Change Arcade.