Games Without Borders Youth Challenge
Congratulations to the Winners of the First Annual Games Without Borders Youth Challenge
The World Affairs Council would like to say thank you to the students and teachers who participated in the Games Without Borders Youth Challenge! We would also like to thank the game developers from Her Interactive, Hidden Path Entertainment and PopCap Games, Inc. who volunteered as judges. We also acknowledge the generosity of Her Interactive, PopCap Games, Inc. and Valve Software for offering tours of their headquarters to our winners. Such partnerships are invaluable in promoting global learning.
Global Classroom is beginning its fourteenth World Citizen Essay Contest this year, but in 2012, Global Classroom chose to encourage students to apply their knowledge of and passion for gaming while learning about world issues. Since fun, educational games about global topics are hard to find, Global Classroom gave Puget Sound students a new challenge: create a game that young people would love to play and that would raise awareness about a global topic or issue.
One hundred and thirty eight teams comprised of over 340 students in the Puget Sound area submitted unique educational game designs. As Challenge participants, students in grades 4 through 12 were asked to form teams of up to four and collaborate to propose a game design that would raise awareness about a global topic. Proposals included written materials to explain how their game would raise awareness about their chosen issue and a wide array of visual materials to convey their game’s key concepts. These visual materials included storyboards, character concept art and board designs. This unique initiative took advantage of the role of gaming in students’ lives and the educational potential of gaming, with excellent results! Further details about the winning game proposals are given below.
Every student who proposed a game received a certificate. In addition, achievement badges were awarded on the basis of an entry containing exceptional research, concept art, character or story ideas, game mechanics, or for creating a video submission. While the body of submissions demonstrated thoughtfulness and creativity, the winning designs selected by our judging panel were especially informative and engaging. We will be honoring the winners by inviting them to personalized tours of local game development companies so that they can learn more about how games are made professionally.
High School Division Winners
Animal Rescue: The Video Game
By Kaylene Stocking and Sarah Yerrace from Timbercrest Junior High (9th grade)
Achievements: Clever Character Idea, Superb Story Idea
This team’s proposed video game is designed to raise awareness about endangered species around the world. Players follow the story of a young ornithology major and a cast of supporting characters who work with the Wildlife Preservation Society. Traveling from continent to continent, the player must complete mini-games based on the recovery cycles of endangered species. As the players complete mini-games, the plot advances; games become more difficult as more animals are saved. This proposal has a solid framework for a game that will help students learn about saving endangered species around the world through habitat conservation, animal awareness and other human-mediated factors.
By Alina Amkhavong, Hannah Madani, Cristina Martinez, and Sahar Mohammad from Kent-Meridian High School (10th grade)
Achievement: Great Game Mechanics
Let’s Trade! teaches students about global economics by assigning each player a role as a key economic decision-maker in a growing country. Players must maximize their domestic economy by collecting specific resources. While the players receive resources randomly by advancing across the board, they must trade with one another in order to meet their individual country’s needs. Free Trade and WTO spaces allow players to draw from respective decks of cards that affect either the game as a whole or an individual country. Players will come away with a greater understanding of the connections between the concepts of free trade, international organizations like the World Trade Organization.
Syria at Risk
By Sopheaktra Danh and Melody Northcutt from Aviation High School (12th grade)
Achievements: Great Game Mechanics, Gorgeous Game Board
This proposal describes a well thought out game design centered on the conflicts emerging from the Arab Spring, focusing on the ongoing struggle in Syria. Accordingly, this game features civilian as well as military conflict. Military units are few in number but large in influence, civilian units convert their targets rather than destroy them, and the board features a multitude of neutral civilian units that must first be converted to a side before they can participate in the conflict. While the pro-government forces start with a large numerical military advantage, events that occur throughout the game that represent global developments tend to favor the opposition forces. This design also takes into account external factors such as the possibility of refugees being forced across the Turkish border, UN involvement, and the importance of the capital city Damascus. Students are bound to gain a deeper understanding of the Arab Spring and violent internal state conflicts by playing this game.
Middle School Division Winners
Children of Change
By McKenna Sevruk from Tahoma Middle School (7th grade)
The player’s primary mission in Children of Change is to guide a poor child through poverty into adulthood. It envisions mini-games that involve budgeting for personal and household expenses, building houses, scavenging for materials, and escaping natural disasters. Players have to navigate these many challenges in order to balance their character’s food, achievement, and health scores as their character ages. The game aims to help a young audience understand the challenges of living on a dollar a day and of escaping poverty.
Micro Loan Adventures
By Luke Johnson, Christo Pamboukas, Joey Peterson and Reed Stever
from Tahoma Middle School (7th grade)
Achievements: Gorgeous Game Board, Great Game Mechanics
This team’s design asks players to navigate around a board in order to develop small businesses in a growing African nation. Each space has the players draw cards from School, Micro Loans, Cost of Life, or Hygiene decks that cause the players to gain or lose money. Micro loans play a particularly important role in granting the players the initial amounts of money they need to start their businesses. The game specifically educates players on an organization, Kiva.org, that makes real micro loans available, and encourages players to take action by going to the website and helping those in need.