Design Teams
Fall 2020

Carter Hales Design Lab
An experiment gone right.

Design for the
Common Good

Artists, designers and other creative professionals have the power to effect positive social change and generate financial reward.

Welcome to Upstart Co-Lab and the world of Impact Investing

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E-Line Media

E-Line Media defines the positive side of the story.

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Section_01_Opening_Statement.txt Humans spend billions of hours a week playing video games.

Section_01-2_Opening_Statement.txt Depending on your outlook, that can be good news or bad.


E-Line Media understands that video games are powerful.

They let you take on identities and venture into a diverse problem space. They give you agency to act; that action generates feedback. The loop of agency, decision making, and feedback is critical when you're invested in a goal. It's the essence of good learning.

Some genres of games are violent or misogynistic, and in some cases, games can lead to excessive play and even addiction. While gaming can lend itself to vibrant and positive social communities, it can also be a haven for toxic commentary and behavior.

E-Line Media defines the positive side of the story. They're a video game developer and publisher passionate about harnessing the power of games to help players understand and shape the world. E-Line is a double-bottom-line, for-profit enterprise whose investors seek market-level financial returns and positive social impact.

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E-Line President and Co-Founder Alan Gershenfeld has spent most of his career bridging entertainment, technology, and storytelling. Gershenfeld went to Hollywood in the late 1980s to make independent films before joining the executive management team of video game maker Activision. One of Activision's titles was Spycraft, a game where Activision worked with former heads of the CIA and KGB to create realistic player situations and complex choices.

Gershenfeld also had an interest in the role of business in cultivating social impact. While exploring double and triple-bottom-line businesses, he was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he connected with a non-profit called Games For Change. Fascinated to find a community interested in using the power of games for social impact, he joined their board and later became Chair.

At that time, there was significant philanthropic, public, and academic funding for game earning and social impact but few games competed successfully for discretionary time or dollars of youth, or in replacing time or money in the classroom. Gershenfeld saw an opportunity to apply the rigor of Activision to help elevate the impact-gaming sector, and he partnered with private equity investor and social entrepreneur Michael Angst to pursue the thesis.

With that, E-Line Media was born.

E-Line is a pioneer in the games and impact sector, residing among very few other commercial video game developers and publishers focused exclusively on social good. Their games have been played by millions worldwide and have received some of the highest-profile industry awards.

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Section_03_Filters_for_Success.txt E-Line applies three filters to assess a concept's potential for social impact:

  • Brings diverse new voices and perspective to the medium.
  • Helping kids become creators, and not merely consumers, of content.
  • Exploration of important issues in an entertaining and invitational way.

E-Line's catalogue of games includes:

Never Alone

An atmospheric puzzle developed in collaboration with Native storytellers and elders of the Iñupiat community. Available in 16 languages, Never Alone has helped connect over 3.5 million players around the world with Alaska Native culture.

Beyond Blue

Set in the near future, players experience the awe and wonder of the ocean through the eyes of Mirai, the lead on a research team using groundbreaking technologies to see, hear, and sense life under water. It's an evocative exploration of a largely unexplored world, and an adventure that challenges the player to make high-stakes decisions about our planet's beating blue heart.

The Endless Mission

An invitation to mashup, mix, and modify games across a wide variety of genres, even manipulating the essence of the game down to the code itself – creating new experiences and gameplay opportunities as they journey from player to creator.


E-Line has partnered with leading foundations, universities, non‑profits, government agencies, and social entrepreneurs to pioneer games for use in world aid initiatives as well as formal and informal learning venues.

MinecraftEdu, for example, is a modification — or "mod" — of the popular game Minecraft. Developed by E-Line, in collaboration with Teacher Gaming, MinecraftEdu has enabled teachers globally to leverage the power of Minecraft to educate and empower students across a multitude of topics. MinecraftEdu was sold to Microsoft in 2015.

E-Line has also helped launch high-profile impact initiatives, like the National STEM Video Game Challenge — announced at the White House by President Obama — and the Gates Foundation-funded Games and Learning Publishing Council.

Their impact investors include institutions, family offices, and senior operating executives from the video game, educational publishing, and financial sectors.

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E-Line Media asks — and answers — the question;

"How can we make the incredible investment of time and money playing video games both fun and empowering?"

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