G4C Award Categories

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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 about one of this year’s three Challenge themes (see: competition rules and guidelines).


Game 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
  • Grand Prize Winner – Best Overall Game

Games are reviewed and scored by panels of expert jurors through three rounds of evaluation (including professionals from the games industry and theme topics). All games are evaluated using the following four categories of 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?

Visit the Challenge theme pages to explore curated content related to each of the topics. Students may also learn more about the topics during game jam events scheduled throughout the Spring (see upcoming opportunities on the Events Page).

Game Accessibility Challenge

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The Game Accessibility Challenge is a new competitive award category, created in partnership with award-winning games studio Numinous Games through their new project, the Playability Initiative – funded by Novartis Gene Therapies

To compete for this special award, students must create a game that incorporates accessible design and supports the gameplay experience for players with one or more different types of disabilities (including visual, auditory, motor and/or cognitive/learning). Student games are only eligible for this award if they have been entered into one of the theme category awards (for playable games).  

Students will be asked to provide a summary of accessibility features they have included in their project and describe how their design supports the gameplay experience for players with specific needs and abilities.


The winner will receive an Xbox Adaptive Controller and Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit for themselves and another set for their school to playtest future accessible designs. The winning student will also have an opportunity to collaborate with Numinous Games on the design of Painted Waters. As a collaborator, they will receive a named associate designer credit in the game once it is released.

How to Submit:

To qualify for the Game Accessibility Award, students must meet all participation requirements and have entered a playable game about one of the three Challenge themes. Complete the section titled ‘Game Accessibility Challenge’ at the bottom of the entry form for playable games.

  • Check the box that indicates: ‘YES, I would like my game to be considered for the Game Accessibility Award.’ 
  • Describe the accessibility features included in your game and how the design supports the gameplay experience for players with one or more disabilities (visual, auditory, motor and/or cognitive/learning). Share how these features support the needs of disabled players. Your summary can be formatted as an essay or as a list w/ bullet points (<500 words)

Game accessibility is as varied as the needs of the players, and often requires highly personalized, individual solutions. With that said, here are some general tips for considering the needs of gamers with visual disabilities, auditory disabilities, motor disabilities and cognitive disabilities.

Visual Disability

Visual Disability 

Visual disabilities may include low vision, blindness, and visual sensitivity disorders (like epilepsy and motion sickness). Here are some design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with visual disabilities:

  • Could a player navigate the menu and start the game without looking at the screen?
  • Could a player successfully play the game without looking at the screen?
  • Are the colors of menus and all gameplay elements color-blind friendly?
  • Are fonts and other crucial visual elements large, high contrast, and easy-to-read?
  • Is voice-over offered for important text/instruction and/or is the game compatible with a screen reader?
  • Does the game avoid flashing lights?
  • Can screen shake and motion blurring be turned off?
Auditory Disability

Auditory Disability 

Auditory disabilities may include impaired hearing, deafness, and auditory processing disorders. Here are some of the design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with auditory disabilities: 

  • Can a player navigate the menu, start, and play through and begin the game?
  • Does the gameplay offer subtitles?
  • Are the subtitles labeled so the player can tell who is speaking without the volume on?
  • Are subtitles easy to read against the background?
  • Are there visual cues, or controller vibrations for sound effects, including proximity sound effects (like the footsteps of an approaching enemy)?
  • Can the player adjust the volume settings for music, sound effects, and voice?
Motor Disability

Motor Disability 

Motor disabilities may include, paralysis, limited strength, limited muscle control, reduced mobility, reduced dexterity, limited range of motion, and limited reaction times. Here are some of the design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with motor disabilities:

  • Can the player controls be remapped?
  • Are there options to play with a single button or switch?
  • Does the game limit the number of buttons you need to press at the same time?
  • Does the game avoid instances where the player must press and hold a button?
  • Does the game avoid instances where the player must fast tap or double tap buttons?
  • Can the game use alternate input devices like an adaptive controller?
  • Can the game be played with a mouse only?
  • Can the game be played with a keyboard only?
  • Is the game compatible with eye-tracking software?
  • Is there a setting that allows the player to remove timers?
  • Can players adjust the control sensitivity settings?
Cognitive Disability

Cognitive Disability 

Cognitive disabilities may include, learning disabilities, slower cognitive processing times, impaired memory, issues of overstimulation, and limited or impaired literacy. Here are some of the design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with cognitive disabilities:

  • Can the player adjust the difficulty level of gameplay?
  • Is there a setting that allows the player to remove timers?
  • Can the player choose to slow down gameplay?
  • Can tutorials be re-played throughout the game experience?
  • Can in-game objectives and instructions be re-read throughout gameplay?
  • Are navigational directions intuitive and simple to follow?
  • Can players read all in-game text at their own pace (not auto-advancing)?

Additional Game Accessibility Resources

Explore in-depth resources and tools on the Game Accessibility Resources page, which features a list of basic accessibility features,  introductory videos, and links to expert organizations leading the way in game accessibility.

Fair Game Writing Challenge

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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 21, 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 two writing samples to be considered for the Fair Game scholarship, including a Video Game Review and a Game Narrative. The writing samples must meet the following criteria:


 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.


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!

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

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.


The Games for Change website contains a library of 200+ recommended games for learning and social impact. Check them out here!