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Winners are recognized in the following categories in each Challenge City (Atlanta, Detroit, LA and NYC) and for the National Competition. To compete in these categories, students must submit playable games about one of this year’s three Challenge themes (see: competition rules and guidelines).

Game Award Categories

  • Best Game – ‘Resilience Through Games’ – Middle School 

  • Best Game – ‘Resilience Through Games’ – High School

  • Best Game – ‘Advocating for Animals’ – Middle School

  • Best Game – ‘Advocating for Animals’ – High School

  • Best Game – ‘Build a Better World’ – Middle School

  • Best Game – ‘Build a Better World’ – High School

  • Grand Prize Winner – Best Overall Game


Judging Criteria

Games are reviewed and scored by panels of expert jurors through three rounds of evaluation (including professionals from the games industry and theme topics). All games are evaluated using the following four categories of judging criteria:


  Is the game playable?

  Is it smooth and bug-free?

  Is gameplay well-balanced (not too easy / not too hard)?

  Do players have meaningful choices in the process of achieving the game's goals?


Use of Theme

  Does the game address its theme in a meaningful way

  Is the theme at the forefront of the game?

  Is the theme information presented clearly and accurately?



  Is the game new, fresh and innovative?

  How unique is the design and game concept?

  Does it bear little resemblance to other student games (particularly in the case of Scratch remixes)?


Wow Factor

How fun is the game?

Would you recommend it to someone else to play?




Game Accessibility Challenge - in partnership w/ the Playability Initiative 


The Game Accessibility Challenge is part of a partnership with award-winning games studio Numinous Games through their new project, the Playability Initiative. The Playability Initiative is made possible through the financial support of Novartis Gene Therapies. Student games that include accessibility features to support the gameplay experience for players with different types of disabilities (visual, auditory, motor and/or cognitive/learning) will be considered for this award. 


The Accessibility Challenge is a competitive award that students can choose to enter their games into as part of the general submission form; participation is optional and only available to students who are entering their game in one of the three themes categories.


The Challenge:

Apply accessible design to make your game inclusive to a specified player perona, knowing that when you design for just one person with a disability, your design will serve a much wider audience of players. Introduce one or more accessibility features to support the gameplay experience for players with different types of disabilities (visual, auditory, motor, and/or cognitive/learning).



The winner will receive an Xbox Adaptive Controller and Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit for themselves and another set for their school to playtest future accessible designs. The winning student will also have an opportunity to collaborate with Numinous Games on the design of Painted Waters. As a collaborator, they will receive a named associate designer credit in the game once it is released. 


How to Submit:

To compete, students must meet all participation requirements and enter their game into one of the theme categories; indicate that you would like your game to be considered for the accessibility award category by completing the section at the very bottom of the entry form titled: Game Accessibility Challenge

  • Check the box that reads: ‘I would like my game to be considered for the Game Accessibility Award.’ 

  • Choose one of the provided gamer personas (or create your own) and write a brief summary (500 words or less) that describes the features you included in your game to make it accessible for the gamer described in your persona. Share how these features support your described player with their specific needs and skills. Your summary can be formatted as a list (w/ bullet points) or as an essay.


Judging Criteria:

Projects submitted to the Game Accessibility Challenge will be evaluated by a panel of expert game designers according to the following criteria:


Gamer Persona and Summary (25% of total score) 


  Did the entrant clearly identify which persona they were designing for (or create their own persona?)

If the entrant created their own persona, does it accurately describe a player’s abilities and needs, while also describing the barriers to play that they typically encounter in video games?

Are the accessibility challenges this entry aims to address clearly stated?

Do the stated accessibility goals match the needs of the selected gamer persona?

Are all of the accessible game features and considerations that are included in the game clearly described in the brief summary?


Design Solution (35% of total score) 

How easily could the submitted game be played by the specific player described in the entry’s gamer persona?

Did the entry meet all the criteria the entrants set for themselves in the persona and summary?

Does the solution provide a creative or elegant innovation that improves the user experience for all players? (Can the player described in the persona access everything but only through very tedious steps, or does the game seem designed to accommodate the player naturally.)

Does the game design consider all possible ramifications of this persona player’s unique needs?


Difficulty of Challenge Attempted (40% of total score) 


How challenging were the needs that the player set out to meet with their design?

Did the selected player persona present disabilities that crossed into many areas of design, or was it only addressing a single component of game design?




Fair Game Writing Challenge – sponsored by New York Videogame Critics Circle 

The Fair Game Writing Challenge is a new competitive scholarship, sponsored by the New York Videogame Critics Circle. To participate, students must submit two writing samples, including a Video Game Review and a Game Narrative (see details below). Entry forms can be completed via the G4C competition portal between Feb 1 – April 21, 2021. 



Fair Game submissions will be reviewed by panels of expert journalists, game executives, and educators – and one student scholarship will be awarded in each Challenge city (NY, LA, Detroit, and Atlanta) as well as for the national competition. Each winner will receive a $400 cash prize in addition to special mentorship opportunities from expert video game journalists and critics.


The Challenge:

Students must submit two writing samples to be considered for the Fair Game scholarship, including a Video Game Review and a Game Narrative. The writing samples must meet the following criteria:

 Video Game Review (<600 words): 

Write a review of your favorite video game and share what it means to you. Review entries should be formatted according to the following two resources: Game Review Checklist and How To Outline A Game Review.

Game Narrative (< 750 words):

Write a fictional game narrative/story for a game you want to make. Include a paragraph describing the game experience, gameplay mechanics, and other features of the game. There are no formatting requirements for the Game Narrative – get creative!


Judging Criteria:

Expert judges will evaluate each writing sample for the Fair Game Writing Challenge according to the following criteria:

Video Game Review:

Clarity of writing 

Ability to follow our review guidelines (above)

Ability to show you’ve played with purpose and can bring yourself/your life into review.

Creativity of writing


Narrative Story 

Clarity of writing

Tight first paragraph that makes us want to read more

Social justice-oriented story. (Examples: bigotry, pollution, bullying)

Originality of the story and of your voice.


Student Resources:

To support student learning, G4C and the NY Videogame Critic Circle will offer a workshop on Game Writing during the month of February 2021 (Check the Events Pg. for event info and registration details). Students can also explore the following resources on their own:

Game Review Checklist

How To Outline A Game Review

The New York Videogame Critics Circle Website

About The New York Videogame Critics Circle