2018 G4C Student Challenge: Program, Winners and Award Ceremonies

By Tania Hack

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:

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 22th (NYC, LA and Atlanta) or August 24th (Detroit) 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, communication partnerships and more! Email [email protected] for more information and to get involved.

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.

NYC_AwardsShowcase_2018 - 1
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 students’ finalist 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 representatives from 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 or check out photos from the event here.

Game Change Awards_June2018_50
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

CougarNaomi 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 2018 Awards Ceremony 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 the winning students and their families and a presentation of awards and 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 the 24 student finalist games and an on-stage ceremony featuring remarks the STEM@GTRI and CEISMC teams at Georgia Tech, Sherry Snipes (president of NOMA) and Susanna Pollack (President of 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 STEM@GTRI 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!