2018 G4C Student Challenge: Program, Winners and Award Ceremonies

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Games for Change is thrilled to announce the 28 winners of the 2018 Games for Change Student Challenge and to recognize the partners, organizations, educators and students who contributed to making this year’s program a resounding success.
Competition Results
The 2018 G4C Student Challenge competition yielded nearly 600 games, created by over 1,100 students – some working as individuals and others in small teams. This year, students were challenged to design and code games about four social impact themes: Connected Cities, Kindness & Empathy, News Literacy and Wildlife Conservation. The winning games teach strategies for preserving pollinators and mountain lions, introduce technologies that can improve life in our cities, explore how kindness matters, combat the spread of fake news, and so much more.
Winners were determined through a rigorous jury process, which involved over 55 professional judges from the games, technology and innovation industries, as well as experts on each of the theme topics. Games were evaluated on gameplay, creativity, originality and use of theme.
Students’ creative efforts were recognized at local award ceremonies, which took place in May and June in each of five participating cities: NYC, LA, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Atlanta. In each city, finalists were invited to demo their games as part of an Awards Showcase and winners were announced and presented with prizes during on-stage ceremonies. Prizes included Android Tablets, exclusive G4C swag, theme-related physical and experiential prizes as well as career-oriented opportunities. The Grand Prize Winner in each city was awarded a $1,000 Scholarship Prize, generously provided by Take-Two Interactive, a proud supporter of the G4C Student Challenge. Winning games were also showcased to the professional community during the 2018 Games for Change Festival.
Full details on each of the 2018 award ceremonies and winning games can be found below. Throughout the year, you can find the winning games featured on the G4C Student Challenge website here.
About the 2017-2018 Program
The G4C Student Challenge expanded to five US cities during the 2017-2018 school year – NYC, LA, Atlanta, Detroit, and Pittsburgh – and reached over 5,000 students from diverse backgrounds. Students learned game design in their middle/high public schools, participated in local impact-themed game jams, and submitted hundreds of original games to the end-of-year competition.
This year’s Challenge focused on four pressing topics, each supported by national and local cause-oriented partners, who shared their expertise by participating in live events, curating an online library of resources and activities (on the Student Challenge website) and developing game design prompts for student competitors. This year’s topics and theme partners included:

Wildlife Conservation (supported by National Wildlife Federation)

Connected Cities (supported by National Organization of Minority Architects)

Kindness & Empathy (supported by iThrive Games and Born This Way Foundation)

News Literacy (supported by Common Sense Education)

The 2017-2018 G4C Student Challenge was led by Games for Change and a consortium of national and local partners in each participating city. National curriculum partner Mouse supported the training of cohort educators and the integration of a Serious Game Design curriculum into cohort schools. National assessment partner, Institute of Play, developed framework for the evaluation of students in cohort schools and the overall program assessment. Key supporting partners in each city included The Grable Foundation in Pittsburgh, General Motors in Detroit and Atlanta, and the Annenberg Foundation, AnnenbergTech and Annenberg Learner in Los Angeles. Additional program supporters included Take-Two Interactive, Unity Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Bigglesworth Family Foundation.
What’s next for the G4C Student Challenge?
We are excited to announce that the Student Challenge program will continue in NYC, LA, Atlanta, and Detroit for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year! We look forward to continuing to support the next generation of game designers and to seeing how their creative work will help improve communities and create real-world impact. The 2018-2019 Challenge themes will be announced in the upcoming weeks – stay tuned!
Interested in becoming a Student Challenge educator?  We are currently recruiting middle and high public school educators in NYC, LA, Detroit and Atlanta to participate in the upcoming year’s G4C Student Challenge. As a cohort educator you will receive free professional development training in game design and empower your students to create social impact games using a Serious Game Design curriculum. Submit your application here by August 20th and seize the opportunity to teach STEAM skills to young leaders while tackling social issues.
Interested in becoming a Student Challenge partner? G4C is seeking national and local partners to support program funding, theme sponsorship, venue donations and communication partnerships and more! Email [email protected] for more information.
Stay tuned and sign-up to our community channels for announcements relating to the 2018-2019 program!
2018 Winners & Award Ceremonies
New York City: Awards Ceremony & Competition Winners
G4C hosted NYC’s 3rd annual Student Challenge Awards Ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum on June 23, 2018. The event attracted nearly 300 attendees, which included student game designers, educators, program partners, family and friends.


Students demo games at the NYC Awards Showcase at the Intrepid Museum

The event kicked off with a showcase of 34 finalist games – each with its own ‘gaming station’ thanks to generous technology support from Dell. The showcase was a busy hive of activity, attracting general museum goers (in addition to the Challenge audience). After playing the student finalists’ games, attendees moved into the Intrepid’s Lutnick Theater for the Award Ceremony, which was emceed by Anjali Bhimani (voice actress for the character Symmetra in Blizzard’s hit game Overwatch) and featured remarks from Susanna Pollack (G4C), Alex Fleming (Mouse) and NYC cohort educators Tim Horodyski and Betulia Lindsey. The awards were presented by program partners, including Shadille Estepan (Born this Way Foundation), Sherry Snipes (NOMA) and Carl Domingo (Unity Education). The event concluded with a short reception with snacks and refreshments, mingling and, of course, more games!
The entire event was live-streamed by media partner BeTerrific, capturing exclusive interviews with student finalists, the full award ceremony presentation, and the incredible Intrepid ship where it all took place. Watch the full event livestream here.
Grand Prize Winner:
Solar Sprout: Geneva H – High School of Art and Design 
Connected Cities: Best Overall Game 
Solar Sprout: Geneva H – High School of Art and Design
City Ghoul: Alexander B, Alston C, Nathan S, Maddox G – Mark Twain I.S.239
Wildlife Conservation: Best Overall Game 
It’s Never Too Late – Kartik K, David R, Brian R, Anthony S – Tottenville High School 
Bee’s Quest: Tristan K, Nicholas M, Alvis L – PS 102Q 
Kindness & Empathy: Best Overall Game 
What Goes Around, Comes Around: Anastasia B, Anton T – High School of Art and Design 
Phobic: Langening R – PS 102Q
News Literacy: Best Overall Game
Sources, Please: Amandou D, Geneva H – Bronx International High School 
Fake News: Nancy C, Nicole Y, Tina T – John J Pershing 220
In addition to recognizing the student winners, G4C honored one educator whose students contributed the most submissions to this year’s competition. Congratulations to Tim Horodyski from PS 102Q for winning the first-ever G4C Teacher Inspiration Award!
Los Angeles: Awards Ceremony & Competition Winners
The Student Challenge Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles was hosted by Annenberg at Cross Campus DTLA on June 2nd and was attended by over 75 students, families, teachers and program partners. The event opened with an arcade of student finalist games, allowing students to discuss their design processes and share their game projects with one another.
Overwatch voice actress Anjali Bhimani emceed the ceremony, which also featured remarks from the Annenberg team and program partners Common Sense Education and #SaveLACougars. Susanna Pollack, President of G4C presented the $1,000 Grand Prize Scholarship. See Annenberg’s blog post here for more info about the LA G4C Student Challenge Awards and check out photos from the event here.

Grand Prize winners take the stage at the LA Awards Ceremony.

Grand Prize Winner
Mountain Lion Maze of Life: Isaac T, Jomo H – William Mulholland Middle School & STEAM Robotics Magnet
Wildlife Conservation: Best Overall Game
Mountain Lion Maze of Life: Isaac T, Jomo H – William Mulholland Middle School & STEAM Robotics Magnet 
Cougar – Naomi M – Girls Academic Leadership Academy
Kindness & Empathy: Best Overall Game
Me, My Friends, and I: Devin L – Florence Nightingale Middle School
The Stress Quiz: Christopher B, Kiev G – STEM Academy of Hollywood
News Literacy: Best Overall Game
Gossip!: Celeste V, Phoebe C, Julissa M, Giselle M – South Gate Middle School
News To You: Stephanie R, Louis P – STEM Academy of Hollywood
Pittsburgh: Awards Ceremony & Competition Winners
The Student Challenge Awards Ceremony in Pittsburgh was hosted on June 2nd at Alloy 26 at Nova Place. The two winning students were interviewed on SLBradio to discuss their creative processes and personal experiences designing games about Kindness & Empathy.The event also included a brunch for winning students and their families as well as a presentation of prizes. Prizes included play passes to local gaming lounge LFG, 3D printed awards, $100 STEAM gift cards from PIGDA, special exhibition tickets to the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the $1,000 Grand Prize Scholarship from Take-Two Interactive.  Listen to the interview broadcast here and check out photos from the event here.

Winning students from Pittsburgh discuss their games on a live radio broadcast.

Grand Prize Winner:
Garret at Chameleon School: Kendall C – Highland Middle School
Kindness & Empathy: Best Overall Game
Chasing Dream: Kathryn B – Pittsburgh Gifted Center
Detroit: Awards Ceremony & Competition Winners
On Saturday, June 16th, the Detroit Awards Ceremony and Arcade was held at GMRENCEN for over 75 attendees. 28 student finalists showcased their games about Connected Cities and the ceremony was emceed by Susanna Pollack (President of G4C). Matt Ybarra from General Motors spoke about the GM/G4C partnership and the company’s role in empowering and creating opportunities for the next generation of creators, technologists and innovators. Tiffany Brown from NOMA took the stage to distribute prizes to winning students, who received trophies, Android tablets and exclusive swag from G4C, in addition to tech backpacks from NOMA; all finalists received Arduino kits and competition certificates. See photos from the event here.

Detroit Grand Prize Winner features his game as part of the Awards Showcase in Detroit

Connected Cities: Grand Prize & Best Gameplay Winner
The Nightmare Adventures of the Whisp: Nathan C – Northville High School
Connected Cities: Best Use of Theme Winner
Connecting Through Energy: Victoria H – Detroit Edison Public School Academy
Connected Cities: Most Original Game Winner
Driverless Cars in Detroit: Andrew K – Livonia Career and Technical Center
Connected Cities: Best Style
City Park Cleanup: Slate S – Livonia Career and Technical Center
Connected Cities: Technical Excellence Winner
City Clean Up: Vincent C – Livonia Career and Technical Center
Atlanta: Awards Ceremony & Competition Winners
The Atlanta G4C Student Challenge Awards Ceremony was hosted by our program partners at Georgia Tech on May 16th at the Georgia Tech Student Success Center. Students, educators, families, and program partners attended the event, which featured an arcade of 24 student finalist games and a ceremony with remarks from the [email protected] and CEISMC teams at Georgia Tech, Sherry Snipes (NOMA) and Susanna Pollack (G4C).. In addition to the $1,000 scholarship from Take-Two Interactive, the Grand Prize winner was awarded a week of GT Coding Camp, courtesy of Georgia Tech!  Check out photos from the Atlanta awards ceremony on the G4C Flickr page here.

Finalists and winners of the G4C Student Challenge in Atlanta

Grand Prize Winner:
City Simulator: Kol G – Maynard Jackson
Connected Cities: Best Gameplay
Healthy Habits: Koen V – PTC
Clean The City: Justin X – River Trail 
Connected Cities: Best Use of Theme
Build-A-Town: Ian W, Neiko A, Parth P – Rockdale Magnet
Choose Out Pollution: Vedant B, Arnav S – Vickery Creek Middle School
Connected Cities: Most Creative Game
StreetCell: Matthew M, William B, Jabari M – A.R. Johnson 
Crime Out!: Brady F, Ryan M – Vickery Creek Middle School
G4C would like to recognize the [email protected] and CEISMC teams from Georgia Tech for making this year’s Atlanta program a huge success.
Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners of the 2018 G4C Student Challenge competition! And a big thank you to the educators and parents who supported the young game creators during their design process and for encouraging their participation in the Student Challenge. Have a wonderful summer – we look forward to seeing you next year!
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Recap of G4C18 Festival and XR4C Summit

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15 years celebrating the impact of games!
It’s a wrap! This year’s 15th annual Games for Change Festival was a major success! We hosted over 1000 attendees with many of them coming from countries around the world. The 3 day event kicked off with the proclamation from Mayor Bill DeBlasio that Thursday, June 28th was officially Games for Change Day. We were fortunate to have Deputy Commissioner Kai Falkenberg to give the award to founders Barry Joseph, Suzanne Seggarman, Benjamin Stokes, G4C’s chairman Asi Burak and G4C’s president Susanna Pollack. We are so proud to see G4C’s diverse community grow and to be a platform where everyone can join forces to discuss and build impactful projects together.

We would like to send a special thank you to Matt Parker, Alexander King, the Institute of Play and Ryan Seashore for curating the different tracks and providing such insightful programs and sessions to the G4C and XR4C communities.
From the XR Brain Jam to the speed networking and Meet the Funders sessions, we saw so many people meeting each other and forging new partnerships. We hope you keep in touch throughout the year and let us know about the amazing work that is born out of this gathering.
Meanwhile, take a look at the Festival and XR for Change Summit photos on our Flickr account and share away with your networks and friends. Also don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel to be notified when the Festival videos are uploaded.

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See photos on Flickr here

XR for Change Summit — join the XR4C community
Our second XR for Change Summit featured over 13 immersive experiences presented by Microsoft, UNICEF, Oculus VR for Good, Conservation International, Emblematic Group, Sundance Institute, Stanford University, Columbia University and many other leading content creators. We are excited to see what impactful XR projects NGO’s, technologists and game studios continue to produce to tackle social issues.
We are very excited to grow the XR for Change community and we continue to look for ways we can add value to the people pioneering this space. Join the ever-expanding #XR4C community to be part of our year round programs such as the XR for Change Talk and Play. Sign-up to our newsletter and follow us on social media to learn on how to get involved. If you are interested in partnering or supporting any of the XR for Change programs, please send us an e-mail on [email protected]

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Round of applause and congratulations to the G4C Award winners and nominees!
Congratulations to all the winners of the G4C Awards, specially Life Is Strange: Before The Storm for winning Most Significant Impact and Game of the Year. A special shout-out to tech ethicist David Ryan Polgar for making us laugh hard and emceeing the G4C Awards. Here are the 2018 winners:
Game of the Year & Most Significant Impact awards
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm: In this choice-based narrative prequel, players see the world through the mind of Chloe Price, a 16 year-old rebel whose self-destructive lifestyle threatens her relationships and well-being. At the helm of this angsty and emotionally powerful protagonist, the player must navigate Chloe’s life decisions when an unexpected friendship throws everything off-kilter.
Best Gameplay Award
What Remains of Edith Finch: Set in the home of “America’s most unfortunate family,” this immersive and unsettling first-person narrative drama delves into hereditary issues. As Edith, players explore the colossal Finch family estate on a quest to discover why she’s the last one alive in her family.
Most Innovative Award
Tree: Through virtual-reality, players are transformed into a majestic rainforest tree. With arms as branches and their body as a trunk, players experience firsthand nature’s life cycle, starting as a seedling in the ground to seeing the view at the top of the canopy, and humanity’s ecological footprint.
Best Learning Game Award
Attentat 1942: Using cinematic-style interviews with survivors, interactive comics and historical footage, this dialogue-based game places players in the center of Nazi occupation during World War II. Players speak to eyewitnesses, live their memories and uncover compelling details of one family’s story.
Polygon x Games for Change People’s Choice Award
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice : Made in collaboration with neuroscientists and personal accounts of psychosis, this action-adventure hybrid pulls the player deep into the mind of Senua, a broken Celtic warrior fighting for the soul of her dead lover. As Senua, the player wrestles with mental illness and the rationalization of the incomprehensible to progress.
Vanguard Award
Katie Salen, founder of the Institute of Play, was awarded the Vanguard Award for her inspiring contributions to the field of play based learning and advancing the games for change community.

Here’s what G4C’s friends are up to

Join G4C at the Game Devs of Color Expo, taking place July 14th from 11 am – 6 pm at The Schomburg Center. The Game Devs of Color Expo is an inclusive games expo and conference that features creators from across a spectrum of backgrounds showing off their games, building culture, and pushing games forward as an artform. Get your tickets for as little as $20, $5, or for free here.

Be part of Playcrafting’s Play NYC on the weekend of August 11th and 12th at The Manhattan Center. Play NYC will feature over 90 games and 85 game developer studios showcasing the best in indie video games and VR. Don’t miss the interactive playground for all ages and buy your tickets here.

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⏰ 1 Week Left to Purchase Tickets for #G4C18 ⏰

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The Games for Change Festival is only 1 week away!

Register now to snag the last few spots in reserved sessions and a ticket to AU & HEVGA’s networking happy hour. 

Join AU & HEVGA’s Happy Hour
Receive an invitation to join #G4C18’s Happy Hour with American University Game Lab, Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) and theEntertainment Software Association (ESA) on Friday, June 29th after purchasing a ticket to the Festival. Make sure to register to receive your Happy Hour invite!


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