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August 01, 2018

Making Games for Change, Unity Blog

From studios to students in school just learning how to code, many people all over the world use Unity. Through Games for Change and their annual Student Challenge, social issues inspire students in middle and high school to build games for the good of others.

Since 2014, the Games for Change Student Challenge has been using games as a platform to drive STEM education, while exploring problems in society. With new themes every year, students in different cities are challenged to think about issues affecting their fellow citizens. For this year’s Games for Change Student Challenge, schools in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York City all joined to make a difference. Themes involved creating experiences around Kindness & Empathy, Wildlife Conservation, News Literacy, and Connected Cities. 61 schools with over 1,100 students participated to create 595 games this year.

group of students

Group image at the 2018 G4C Student Challenge Award Ceremony

With the help of Mouse.org, an organization empowering students and educators to create with technology to make a difference, teachers were given access to a Serious Games curriculum to support students in their game development learning, using Unity to build sample projects by the end of the course. Games for Change even held its first Unity focused game jam for students at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. As a result, 50 projects were made with Unity. Here are some of the winners from this year!

Healthy Habits

Most Creative Game from G4C Student Challenge: Atlanta

Screenshot of Healthy Habits

In Healthy Habits, your role as the player in a futuristic world is to make your way home avoiding the maze of unhealthy foods to try and collect healthy options. In the United States, 20% of people live in areas where whole foods – poultry, fish, meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables – are not accessible. Instead, the only accessible food sources are processed foods like candy and chips. This game highlights the importance of having access to healthy food.

Play Healthy Habits on GameJolt.

Solar Sprout

Best Overall Game from G4C Student Challenge: New York City

Screenshot of Solar Sprout

“In today’s society, there are a large amount [sic] of problems that aren’t getting solved and lots of energy being wasted. If communities were more connected to each other, I feel things could improve.” – Geneva Heyward, Developer of Solar Sprout

Inspired by creating a more connected world, Solar Sprout teaches people to use their energy in an effort to support their community. Whether through facilitating connections between people or providing power to their apartment, the main character Johnnie flies through the city helping those in need.

Play Solar Sprout on Itch.io

Developer Geneva Heyward at the G4C Awards

Solar Sprout was made by solo developer Geneva Heyward. In addition to her award for Solar Sprout, Geneva also won Best News Literacy Game alongside teammate Amadou for their game Sources, Please. Geneva was no stranger to the challenge, as she participated in last year’s competition and won an award for the Best Climate Change Game.

She started learning Unity through the School of Interactive Arts in New York, which enabled her to explore her passion for art, programming, and game development. Through the program, she began to build her own portfolio of games, participating in various challenges including the G4C Student Challenge in 2017. Attending New York University in September, her journey at the School of Interactive Arts and knowledge of Unity allowed her to support fellow students, enabling 7 other teams to become finalists at this year’s challenge.

Technology can be an incredible tool to support people all over the world. With organizations like Games for Change and Mouse.org, these lessons can inspire students’ lives to use technology for the good of their community, all people, or even the plants and animals that live alongside us.

For more information, visit the G4C Student Challenge program websiteand check out the full list of 2018 competition winners. In addition to the Student Challenge, Games for Change hosts other events like the Games for Change Festival and the XR for Change Summit. Find more information about the organization here.

Interested in ways to get started with Unity? For students, download your own Personal Edition of Unity. For teachers, apply for a free EDU License of Unity and bring Unity to your classroom through our Curriculum Framework and Professional Skills Standard.

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