Google has announced the five finalists for their Change the Game Design Challenge. This competition was built in conjunction with Girls Make Games and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation in part to address the gender imbalance in the video game industry. The design challenge’s official site states, “Of the millions of people in the United States who enjoy games on Google Play, 49% are women. Yet only 23% of game developers are women.” Thus, the Design Challenge was made for teen girls to create their own mobile game for the opportunity at a $10,000 college scholarship and $15,000 for their school or community center’s technology program. All five finalists also got to attend E3 and a scholarship to the Girls Makes Games Summer Camp.
The overall winner of the Change the Game Design Challenge was 17 year old Washington native Christine with her side-scrolling platformer Mazu. Christine stated she wanted to create a game both boys and girls could enjoy. “As an aspiring artist in the gaming industry, I do not want to repeat this cycle of gender-based pandering in the future.” The game itself is about a shapeshifter’s perilous quest to find a “safe point” created by the titular character and her sister. Christine would state that she constructed the narrative to go against “the orthodox views on guiding the youth solely through parental guidance and structured education.”
The other finalist included four highly talented teens. 14 year old Dakota designed, Ecoverse, a game meant to teach players about nurturing the environment through minigames, and to oppose the typical video game trope of destruction. Palette, designed by 17 year old Lauren, is a game where players can paint as they learn about aspects of art including color theory and art history. 17 year old Erin created Symphony. It is a rhythm game that puts players in the shoes of the character Serena Harmonia as she spreads “the magical effect of music” on a journey across the world. Finally, 15 year old Lily designed puzzle game The Other Realm in which players unravel their past as they progress throughout the game.
All five of the games are now available to download for free through Google Play. You can check out Google Play’s video with the five finalists below: