Games for Change Student Challenge Unveils 2021-22 Themes and Partners

In its 7th year, the national game design competition invites students to design social impact games focused on voting rights, climate change and sustainability, and accessibility,

Today, Games for Change (G4C) announced the 2021-2022 G4C Student Challenge, a national game design program, and competition that bridges students’ passion for video games with civic engagement and digital storytelling. Now in its 7th year, the Student Challenge reaches thousands of middle and high school students across the country through hands-on, virtual game design courses, game jams, and a national game design competition.

The G4C Student Challenge empowers students to see themselves as agents of change in the world and create games focused on timely social impact themes. G4C partners with cause-based organizations to host game jams and curate resources around the Challenge themes.

Themes for the 2021-2022 program include:

  • Voice of a New Generation: Games that propose solutions to make the process of voting more accessible and encourage young people to vote, in partnership with New Georgia Project.
  • Sustainable Cities: Games about solutions to the climate crisis and ways we can make our homes, schools, and communities more resilient and sustainable, in partnership with NRDC.
  • Shaping the World for Difference: Games that raise awareness about learning and thinking differences like ADHD and dyslexia and incorporate accessibility best practices so they can be enjoyed by everyone, in partnership with social impact non-profit Understood.

Last year, the Student Challenge program saw an unprecedented level of engagement from both students and educators, with over 275 teachers participating in the program and more than 1,500 talented students submitting original games into the competition. This year, the Student Challenge will reach even more educators by expanding their national reach and introducing new city-based partnerships in Pittsburgh and Seattle, in addition to the existing city partners: Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York City.

To support educators in bringing the Student Challenge to their schools, G4C provides 10 hours of professional development for middle and high school educators based in challenge cities, with a focus on diverse and historically underserved schools. Students from anywhere in the U.S. are invited to enter the competition and participate in the program through the free game design curriculum available on the Student Challenge website, which includes modules for students, teachers, museum educators, and parents.

Students who enter the national competition have a chance to win prizes — including up to $10,000 in scholarships, generously provided by Take-Two Interactive. Students can also win special awards, including the Made with Unity Award in partnership with Unity’s Social Impact division and the ‘Fair Game Writing Challenge’ in partnership with the New York Video Game Critics Circle.

The Challenge will also feature two new offerings for educators and students:

  • The Career Pathways in Games program, supported by the Best Buy Foundation, will enable teens at Best Buy Teen Tech Centers in Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, and Brooklyn to acquire essential technical and workforce-readiness skills needed for success in college and 21st-century careers, especially in the games industry and similar tech industry jobs.
  • G4C will also add an extended reality (XR) module to its curriculum for educators, including lesson plans and other teaching resources from the Verizon Innovative Learning site. As part of the XR Challenge, G4C will create a set of lessons, paired with our existing game design curriculum, that will guide teachers and students on how to design and program games for virtual and augmented reality environments.

As G4C’s flagship learning program, the Student Challenge is part of a growing set of offerings for educators and youth that uses games and game design to promote computer science, STEM skills, and social-emotional learning — including Game Plan, a program that empowers museum educators to bring game design into youth programs, and Game Exchange, a virtual international exchange program that reimagines cross-cultural connections with game design.

“The G4C Student Challenge gets bigger and better every year, with a more robust curriculum and resources and new ways for students and teachers to join in. We’re excited to build on the success of the Student Challenge by developing new G4C Learn programs and partnerships that meet the growing demand for immersive, student-centered learning experiences,” said Arana Shapiro, Managing Director and Chief Learning Officer at Games for Change.

The 2021-2022 G4C Student Challenge is generously funded by General Motors, Riot Games, Take-Two Interactive, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, Verizon, the Bigglesworth Family Foundation, Best Buy Foundation, the Grable Foundation, and Motorola Solutions. City-based programs are supported by leading educational and community-based organizations, including Two Bit Circus Foundation, Cxmmunity, CMU ETC, and Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD).

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