President Obama Announces Two Video Game Design Competitions

Decades ago, this writer’s parents would encourage their son to not spend an entire weekend playing what they saw was a mindless video game and instead do something productive, like chores or developing at least some form of base social skills. As a defense, this writer would reply, “But this is all educational. I want to make games for a living!” This likely couldn’t have been further from the truth, but flash forward twenty years and that lie could have possibly been more believable. Late last week, President Obama announced two video game design competitions under the umbrella title National STEM Video Game Challenge (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math). Opening for submissions on October 12th and accepting until early January, the Youth Prize asks students from fifth grade to eighth to design a game either as a paper proposal or a working prototype, the entrants vying for prizes in a $50,000 pool full of miscellaneous things like laptops, software, and money for their school, while hopefully encouraging students to get more interested in the the technological mechanics under the hood. Meanwhile, the Developer Prize will run simultaneously, asking emerging and experienced game designers to come up with a game for younger children that will help foster interest in science, technology, engineering and math. That prize will split a pool of more than $100,000. So if you have a kid like this writer used to be, with vague aspirations or blatant lies, here’s your chance to get them off the couch by saying, “Okay, prove it.”