The annual G4C Student Challenge is a national game design competition that challenges middle and high school students to design and code games about real-world issues. Students enter their original games and compete to win awesome prizes, including games, technology and a $1,000 Grand Prize Scholarship!  Finalists showcase their games and winners are revealed during celebratory awards ceremonies at the end of the school year.
Please share your contact details here to receive important Challenge updates, including opportunities to hone your game design skills during workshops and game jams between now and the competition launch on Feb 1, 2021.

How Students Participate

1. Select and research one of the Challenge themes:

    • Advocating for Animals

    • Build a Better World

    • Resilience Through Games

2. Design and code a game about the topic

    Work alone or in a team of up to 4 people

3. Submit the game to the Challenge Competition

    Entry period is Feb 1 – April 1, 2021

4. Compete to win awesome prizes and national recognition

    Grand Prize winners receive a $1.000 Scholarship

Key Dates

Ativo 2
Feb 1, 2021 Open for Submissions
April 1, 2021 Deadline to Submit Games
April/May 2021 Jury Evaluation Period
May/June 2021 Award Ceremonies (virtual/live)

Competition Rules, Guidelines & Award Categories

To qualify for the competition, all games must meet the below ‘game guidelines.’ Students may choose to create their game as an individual or in a small team of up to four people. Additional guidance is provided for students who choose to work in teams. 

Game Guidelines

•  Games must address one of the 2021 Challenge themes (Advocating for Animals, Build a Better World or Resilience Through Games)

•  Games must be playable on a web browser (digital games only!)

•  Games must be created in a free or open platform (i.e. Scratch, Unity, Game Salad, etc.);  

      Note: Games about the ‘Build a Better World’ theme must be created in Minecraft: Education Edition or Minecraft.

•  Students can create games as an individual or in a team of up to four people

•  Students may submit one game per theme category (either as an individual or in a small team)

•  Each game requires an entry form (See: 2020 entry form for reference)

•  Entry form must be completed during submission period (Feb 1 – April 1, 2021)

•  All content must be in accordance with the Challenge Terms of Use.

Working in Teams

•  Students can create games as an individual or in a team of up to four people

•  Teams submit one entry form per each game

•  Teams should identify a ‘Team Leader’ who is responsible for (a) completing the entry form and (b) communicating w/ G4C on behalf of the team.

•  All team members must satisfy the student eligibility requirements 

•  If any student on the team is under 13 years old, the ‘Team Leader’ must be an adult.

In 2021, the G4C Student Challenge will expand nationally, giving all middle and high school students the opportunity to compete in a national competition. In addition, city-wide competitions will take place in the four Challenge Cities (Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York City), for which there are additional eligibility requirements.

Student Eligibility

• For the National Competition, any middle/high school student located in the US may enter the competition.

• Challenge city-wide competitions are open to middle/high school students enrolled in a public or charter school in the four cities; home school students qualify if they report to the DOE. The four Challenge cities include:

          • Atlanta
          • Detroit
          • Los Angeles
          • New York City

Students must be in grades 6th -12th; students in 5th grade may also participate in they have officially entered middle school.

Students under the age of 18 must have the consent of a parent, teacher or guardian to submit a game; students must provide contact details (phone and email) for the adult contact in their submission form.

• Students under the age of 13 need a teacher or guardian to submit a game on their behalf.

• All applicants may be required to provide verification of enrollment, age and parental/legal guardian permission.

Working in Teams

 • Students can create games as an individual or in a team of up to four people

• Teams submit one entry form per each game

• Teams should identify a ‘Team Leader’ who is responsible for (a) completing the entry form and (b) communicating w/ G4C on behalf of the team.

• All team members must satisfy the student eligibility requirements 

• If any student on the team is under 13 years old, the ‘Team Leader’ must be an adult.

Winners are recognized in the following categories in each Challenge city (Atlanta, Detroit, LA and NYC) and for the National competition. To compete in these categories, students must submit playable games (see competition criteria section).

Award Categories

• Best Game – ‘Resilience Through Games’ – Middle School 

• Best Game – ‘Resilience Through Games’ – High School

• Best Game – ‘Advocating for Animals’ – Middle School

• Best Game – ‘Advocating for Animals’ – High School

• Best Game – ‘Build a Better World’ – Middle School

• Best Game – ‘Build a Better World’ – High School

Special Awards

• Accessibility Modifier – Students who successfully implement accessibility features into their games may choose to be considered for this specialty award.

• Grand Prize Winner – Best Overall Game


The Fair Game Writing Challenge – sponsored by New York Videogame Critics Circle 

The Fair Game Writing Challenge is a new competitive scholarship, sponsored by the New York Videogame Critics Circle. To participate, students must submit two writing samples, including a Video Game Review and a Game Narrative (see details below). Entry forms can be completed via the G4C competition portal between Feb 1 – April 1, 2021. 

Fair Game submissions will be reviewed by panels of expert journalists, game executives and educators – and one student scholarship will be awarded in each Challenge city (NY, LA, Detroit and Atlanta) as well as for the national competition. Each winner will receive a $400 cash prize in addition to special mentorship opportunities from expert video game journalists and critics.

Submission Requirements:

Students must submit both of the following writing samples to be considered for the scholarship:

 1. Video Game Review (<600 words): 

Write a review of your favorite video game and share what it means to you. Review entries should be formatted according to the following two resources: Game Review Checklist and How To Outline A Game Review.

 2. Game Narrative (< 750 words):

Write a fictional game narrative/story for a game you want to make. Include a paragraph describing the game experience, gameplay mechanics and other features of the game. There are no formatting requirements for the Game Narrative – get creative!

Judging Criteria:

Expert judges will evaluate each writing sample for the Fair Game Writing Challenge according to the following criteria:

Video Game Review:

• Clarity of writing 

• Ability to follow our review guidelines (above)

• Ability to show you’ve played with purpose and can bring yourself/your life into review.

• Creativity of writing

Narrative Story 

• Clarity of writing

• Tight first paragraph that makes us want to read more

• Social justice-oriented story. (Examples: bigotry, pollution, bullying)

• Originality of the story and of your voice.

Student Resources:

To support student learning, G4C and the NY Videogame Critic Circle will offer a workshop on Game Writing during the month of February 2021 (Check the Events Pg. for event info and registration details). Students can also explore the following resources on their own:

• Game Review Checklist

• How To Outline A Game Review

• The New York Videogame Critics Circle Website

• About The New York Videogame Critics Circle

Games are evaluated by panels of expert judges (games industry and theme subjects). Each game will be reviewed and scored by multiple judges during all three phases of the jury process. For each game, jurors evaluate the entry form (including any supplemental materials provided by students), play the game and score the project in each of four categories: Gameplay, Use of Theme, Creativity and Wow Factor. Jurors may also share written, qualitative feedback.  All games are evaluated using the following judging criteria:


• Is the game playable?

• Is it smooth and bug-free?

• Is gameplay well-balanced (not too easy / not too hard)?

• Do players have meaningful choices in the process of achieving the game’s goals?

Use of Theme:

• Does the game address its theme in a meaningful way?

• Is the theme at the forefront of the game?

• Is the theme information presented clearly and accurately?


• Is the game new, fresh and innovative?

• How unique is the design and game concept?

• Does it bear little resemblance to other student games (particularly in the case of Scratch remixes)?

Wow Factor:

• How fun is the game?

• Would you recommend it to someone else to play?

Who do I contact with questions about the competition?

Please reach out to the G4C team by email: [email protected].


When can I submit my game to the Student Challenge competition?

Games can be entered into the competition from February 1 – April 1, 2021. Join the Challenge newsletter to stay up-to-date on all important competition news.


I have never made a game before, where do I start?

If you are new to game design, we highly recommend downloading the free G4C Student Challenge curriculum. You can also access lots of great game design resources on the Students Resources page. G4C also hosts workshops and game jams throughout the year to help students dive into the game design process; all upcoming events will be posted on the Challenge Events Page.


What are the G4C Student Challenge themes?

The themes are topics that students create their games about! This year, students can choose between three themes:


How can I enter the Student Challenge competition?

You can enter the competition by filling out the submission form accessible on the left-hand toolbar within the Competition Portal. You will need to create an account in order to access the form.


What’s the difference between the Challenge City competition and the National Competition? What does Challenge City mean, anyway?

Challenge Cities include NYC, Los Angeles, Atlanta (and the greater metro area), and Detroit (and the greater metro area). These four cities have year-round Student Challenge programming, beyond just the competition, and are focused on public schools. The National Competition is open to all other middle and high school students in the U.S. including those in private, independent, and other types of schools.


I am a student in Los Angeles. Will my game submission be entered into the Challenge City competition or the National?  How do I choose?

You do not need to choose which competition you want to be entered into.  If you are a public school student in one of our Challenge Cities, your game will automatically be considered for the Challenge Cities competition.


I am in a Challenge City, but I attend a private school. Which competition will my game be entered into?

As the Challenge City competition is open to public school students only, your game will be considered for the National Competition.


Are there different submission forms for the local Challenge City competition and the National Competition?

No. The same form is used for both.


How will the jury evaluate the games? What will I be judged on?

Games will be evaluated by judges on four criteria: Gameplay, Originality, Use of Theme, and Wow Factor.  Find further information about the judging criteria here.


How do I submit a game that I created with a team?

Students can submit a game as an individual, or as a team of up to 4 students. We strongly recommend that teams identify a ‘Team Leader’ who is responsible for (1) completing the entry form and (2) communicating w/ G4C on behalf of the team.

As a reminder, a team should only submit one entry form for a game. All team members must meet the Challenge’s eligibility requirements.


Do Middle School students compete against the High School students?

No, winners are awarded at both the middle school level and the high school level for each theme category.  


When are the student winners announced?

Winners are announced (and prizes awarded) during celebratory Awards Ceremonies in May-June 2021. More information on the Award Ceremonies will be available on the program Events Page in Spring 2021.

Competition finalists will be notified ahead of the awards ceremony and are invited to showcase their games at the events.


What types of prizes can I win?

Each student on the Grand Prize winning teams receives a $1,000 Grand Prize Scholarship. Prizes for winning teams vary from year to year, but typically include crystal trophies, video games, technology, theme-related experiences, industry opportunities and more! 

All game submissions must comply with the following content restrictions and terms of use.

Content Restrictions:

• The application form and game submission must not contain any personally identifiable information, including but not limited to the applicant’s full name, address, birth date, social security number or other federal or state identification number. Application forms and/or submissions that incorporate any of this information will be subject to disqualification.

• The submission must not contain material that violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to privacy, publicity, copyright, trademark, patent, or intellectual property- or property-related rights.

• The submission must not disparage any person or party affiliated with the promotion and administration of the Challenge.

• The submission must not contain footage, images or artwork not created by applicant unless such footage, images or artwork are included as part of the applicant’s chosen game creation platform, part of Challenge website Theme page content, or applicant has obtained all rights necessary to include such footage, images or artwork as part of a submission to the Challenge.

• The submission must not contain material that is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous.

• The submission must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.

• The submission must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where the submission is created.

Terms of Use

Each applicant must retain a copy of the submission. Challenge administrators are not responsible for, and each applicant specifically releases Challenge administrators from any claims or liability relating to, any loss or damage to the submission. By entering, each applicant represents and warrants that (a) the applicant’s submission and all components thereof, including all ideas, creative elements and any other materials and information contained in the Submission are wholly original with the applicant, (b) no person or entity has collaborated with applicant in creating the submission (unless the game is made by a team, in which case team members may collaborate only with each other and not any other person or entity), provided any material or information for inclusion in the submission, or has any ownership rights in and to the submission or any component thereof, (c) applicant has the exclusive, unconditional right and authority to submit the submission to the Challenge and grant the rights set forth herein, and (d) the submission complies with these Official Rules in full. Submissions must not contain any material that Challenge administrators, in their sole discretion, deem inappropriate for public viewing and/or determine is contrary to their mission. Challenge administrators reserve the right in their sole discretion to disqualify and/or not accept any submission that Challenge administrators determine does not or is likely not to comply with these guidelines, to make such changes to any submission as are necessary to make it compliant, or to require the applicant to do so.