Video Game Design Competition for Teens: Sign Up Now!

Does your teen dream of designing their own video game?  If so, they can put their gaming and computer programming experience to good practice by designing a game and entering it in the 2014-2015 National STEM Video Game Challenge sponsored by the Smithsonian in partnership with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media. The Challenge is a national game design competition for middle and high school students where winners receive a cash prize of $1,000, as well as game design and educational software.

I did my research and the competition is legitimate.  Now in its fourth year, the Challenge was initially launched in 2010 at the White House by President Obama. It was inspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. The intent was to get kids interested in STEM by focusing on something many kids love to do– play and design video games.

Important Details About the Challenge

  1. Entries open October 28, 2014- February 25, 2015Video Game Design
  2. There is no cost to participate
  3. Who is eligible?
    • U.S. citizens and legal residents
    • Grades 5-8 (middle school) and grades 9-12 (high school)
    • Must be enrolled in a school in the 50 states, DC or home-schooled
  4. Individual or team (limit up to 4 youths) submissions accepted

What Your Teen Should Do If They’re Interested

1. Review Rules and FAQs for full details

2. Explore the Resources tab for guidance on game design and game making tools

3. Complete the Student Registration

4. Get started designing and be sure to submit the game by 2/25/15

I have encouraged my 13-year-old daughter, who loves video games and has been attending computer camps for years, and her friend, who also likes to game and code, to participate in this year’s challenge. When I told her about the competition, she thought it sounded like a great idea. She and her friend are currently brainstorming game design ideas and figuring out which programming language they would like to use.

I think this is a great opportunity for teens to explore their creative side, employ their computer programming skills, and get experience working on a project by setting goals, doing the work, and submitting a finished design.  This real-world experience will be valuable on a teen’s college application, resume, and in their design portfolio.

Image Source: Blackpool CoderDojo by Les Pounder, CC-BY-2.0

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