The Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge. This year, we received close to 4,000 entries — and not only did more students enter the competition than in previous years, but their games were more complex, challenging and creative than ever before. We were blown away by the energy that students put into their games, the number of platforms they used to develop them (over 15!) and the support that they received from the hundreds of teachers and mentors that got involved.
In their entries, students showed remarkable ingenuity when designing both educational and non-educational games. From spelling to history to math and more, entrants developed games to teach their favorite subjects: in fact, 46% of students designed educational games. When asked why, many competitors said that they wished they could use games in the classroom or to teach their peers about their interests. One of the winners created a game about sustainable energy, hoping to teach others about her passion for the environment.
Not only were students’ games more focused on learning, a higher percentage of students reported using games in the classroom or games with their teacher than ever before. Over 56% of competitors designed their game with a teacher’s help. One entrant noted how his teacher related the design process to his STEM subject material.
This year, the Challenge managed to reach students from U.S. territories across the world and in both rural and urban areas. Along with increased geographic diversity, the challenge touched students previously unexposed to game design and more women than ever before. Many participants, including a few of the winners, told us that they had not thought of creating their own games until they heard of the Challenge and realized that they too could be designers. Kudos to the teachers and mentors who helped all of these budding designers explore their creativity.
We were also impressed that many students used the “Written” category to begin exploring design and STEM subjects; and now, many of these entrants report that they are building prototypes of their games. Students were also inspired to publish their games for the public to play. A number of winners and entrants have recently released their games commercially, citing the Challenge as inspiring them to consider game design as a career.
The STEM Challenge would not have been such a great success without the energy and support from this year’s partners and sponsors, including Microsoft, the Entertainment Software Association, and the AMD Foundation — leaders whose efforts to inspire and educate youth have provided us all with great energy. As Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA notes, “Video games can be the spark that ignites a passion for STEM learning in tomorrow’s leaders. We are proud to work with these remarkable leaders in education, childhood development, and business. These nationally respected partners understand and appreciate video games’ ability to inspire, educate, and improve the lives of America’s children.”
Competitions like the National STEM Video Game Challenge provide a creative and innovative approach to STEM learning. “AMD is proud to co-sponsor the National STEM Video Game Challenge for the third consecutive year because it parallels our signature education initiative, AMD Changing the Game. Both enable youth to develop their own games to tackle social issues, which makes STEM learning engaging and fun,” said Susan Moore, Director, Global Public Affairs.
As we’ve spoken to competitors and winners over the past few weeks, we’ve been struck by the stories we’ve heard about games and learning, students teaching themselves to code, and more. Over the summer, we will be rolling out a series of blog posts, each of which will highlight a winning game or participant. Facilitating this competition has introduced the Center to a number of new ways of using games for learning, and we look forward to sharing them with you this summer.
We would like to congratulate our winners and all of the students that submitted games. We will be announcing the finalists later this month. If you entered the competition and would like feedback on your game, please contact us.