Critical Thinking Games logo shows Critical Thinking cat perched on the URL.

Critical Thinking cat is curious about media messages and their impact.

Here are some definitions about critical thinking to give you an idea of what is meant by "critical thinking." Although there is a general consensus regarding its meaning, these definitions offer a variety of perspectives to better understand critical thinking.

"Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. It involves the evaluation of sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings."

~ ThoughtCo

"Critical thinking is a kind of thinking in which you question, analyse, interpret, evaluate and make a judgement about what you read, hear, say, or write."

~ Monash University

"[...] careful thinking directed to a goal."

~ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"The process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you."

~ Cambridge Dictionary

"Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

~ University of Louisville

"Thinking critically is a skill that is taught at school and university BUT its main purpose is to better equip you to understand the world, to make more sense of the vast amount of information that is available to us and to avoid, being manipulated. It is a life skill."

~ University of Greenwich

Critical Thinking cat is thinking that this is more comfortable than it appears.

These resources and articles about critical thinking are helpful in designing critical thinking games.

  • A Guide to Costa's Levels of Questioning [The Edvocate]
    "Like Bloom’s taxonomy, the questions in Costa’s lower levels encourage students to use their more fundamental cognitive processes. [...] A sizable body of research backs up Dr. Costa’s schema. Following a constructivist theory of education, Newmann (1993) discovered that higher-order thinking forces students to 'manipulate information and ideas in ways that modify their meaning' and 'expects students to solve issues and build meaning for themselves.'"
  • 5 Tips for Critical Thinking [Psychology Today]
    "[Critical Thinking] is necessary when you care about your decisions or when the consequence of a decision is impactful. According to Jean Paul Sartre, every time an individual acts, they are making a choice to commit that act as opposed to not acting, or acting in an alternative manner. With that in mind, if we were to think critically about every single decision we make, we would be mentally exhausted before we even got to work."
  • 60 Critical Thinking Strategies for Learning [teach thought]
    "A critical thinking strategy is simply a ‘way’ to encourage or facilitate the cognitive act of thinking critically.

    "Critical thinking is the ongoing application of unbiased, accurate, and ‘good-faith’ analysis, interpretation, contextualizing, and synthesizing multiple data sources and cognitive perspectives in pursuit of understanding.

    "What are the 7 critical thinking strategies? Someone emailed me recently asking that question and I immediately wondered how many more than seven there were. 27? 77?"
  • Critical Thinking [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
    "Critical thinking is a widely accepted educational goal. Its definition is contested, but the competing definitions can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful thinking directed to a goal."
  • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving [The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga]
    "In essence, critical thinking is a disciplined manner of thought that a person uses to assess the validity of something (statements, news stories, arguments, research, etc.)."
  • Critical Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples [ThoughtCo.]
    "Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information, and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve problems or make decisions."
  • Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach? [AdLit: All About Adolescent Literacy]
    "Learning critical thinking skills can only take a student so far. Critical thinking depends on knowing relevant content very well and thinking about it, repeatedly. Here are five strategies, consistent with the research, to help bring critical thinking into the everyday classroom."
  • CRITHINKEDU Impact Report - A journey on critical thinking in European higher education [CRITHINKEDU]
    "Funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme, the ‘Critical Thinking Across the European Higher Education Curricula – CRITHINKEDU’ project arises from the background and experience of European Higher Education Institutions, business corporations and Non-Governmental Organisations, and their ongoing concern to improve the quality of learning in universities and across different sectors, which converge in a common need on how to better support the development of Critical Thinking (CT) according to labour market needs and social challenges."
  • Defining Critical Thinking [The Foundation for Critical Thinking]
    "Critical thinking is a rich concept that has been developing throughout the past 2,500 years. The term 'critical thinking' has its roots in the mid-late 20th century. [In this article, we] offer overlapping definitions which together form a substantive and trans-disciplinary conception of critical thinking."
  • How To Teach Critical Thinking in K-12 [Forbes]
    "What’s needed is not necessarily new courses, but a critical thinking focus throughout the curriculum. Some of these changes can happen quickly with tweaks to existing curricula and the incorporation of deeper and more creative thinking exercises."
  • Logical Fallacies: Examples and Pitfalls in Research and Media []
    "In public discourse, research and academic writing, logical fallacies should always be avoided because they invalidate conclusions and arguments. Unfortunately, it is easy to commit such logical fallacies ourselves.

    "A recent analysis of medical fallacies can be found in a paper titled, 'Fallacies in medical practice: Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibition and COVID-19 as a Paradigm' in the Hellenic Journal of Cardiology.

    "It states that 'In emergency situations, such as during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, medical community looks for quick answers and guidance. Under these circumstances, experts instead of admitting ignorance, feel obliged to give an answer, often pressurized by political or other authorities, even when such an answer is unavailable. Under these circumstances, publications based on fallacious reasoning are virtually unavoidable. (Triposkiadi, Dean Boudoulas, Xanthopoulos, and Harisios, 2020).'”
  • The Critical Thinking Consortium [TC2]
    A collection of resources for educators and parents supporting "critical, creative, and collaborative thinking as an educational goal and as a method of teaching and learning." Many of these resources require payment but the website also includes several excellent free online collections and published lessons.
  • What is critical thinking? [Monash University]
    "People who apply critical thinking consistently are said to have a critical thinking mindset, but no one is born this way. These are attributes which are learnt and improved through practice and application.

    "In the academic context, critical thinking is most commonly associated with arguments. You might be asked to think critically about other people's arguments or create your own. To become a better critical thinker, you therefore need to learn how to: clarify your thinking purpose and context; question your sources of information; identify arguments; analyse sources and arguments; evaluate the arguments of others; and create or synthesise your own arguments."

Background: About the Critical Thinking Games Contest

Since 2008, Gaming Against Violence, an award-winning program from the nonprofit charity Jennifer Ann's Group, has produced prosocial games in an effort to improve the lives of young people around the world. Every year a new game design challenge is issued for game designers and developers to create compelling games about that year's topic. Previous game challenges have focused on a variety of topics and themes including consent, culture, gaslighting, healthy relationships, and resilience. This year the game design challenge theme is critical thinking.

Critical Thinking cat is considering the big picture.

Critical Thinking Game Overview

The Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge consisted of two rounds. For Round One, contestants submitted a game pitch using the theme of critical thinking. For Round Two, Finalists were selected based on their submitted game pitch. These Finalists will then design and develop their critical thinking video games based on their game pitches. They will have three months to develop their games.

Each Finalist who submitted an eligible game was guaranteed a prize of at least $100 (USD). The Winning Game was guaranteed a prize of at least $3,000 (USD). The total prize pool awarded to the group of Finalists was $10,000 (USD). All Finalists also receive critiques of their submitted games from experts in game design and/or critical thinking.

The critical thinking game design contest was open to everybody age 13 and older (minors will need a parent or guardian to sign the prize acceptance agreement in the event they are selected as a Finalist). The critical thinking games should be designed to be generally appropriate for ages 11 and up. Your entry should be a video game that has never been published before. And, as has been the case since 2008: the games cannot contain any depictions of violence.

While watching TV at night, Critical Thinking cat is also thinking about the timeline for the critical thinking game design challenge.

Critical Thinking Game Timeline

Round One consisted of submitting a proposed game pitch. This entails answering six questions and providing other registration data.

Round Two was limited to Finalists who will be selected from the Round One proposed game pitch submissions. You do not need to be a game developer or game designer in order to become a Finalist - you just need to have a clever idea that you believe would translate well into a compelling video game that supports critical thinking!


  • Round One: Game pitches were submitted by March 19, 2023.
  • Finalists were selected and notified by March 30, 2023.
  • Round Two: Finalists had until June 30, 2023 to submit their completed critical thinking game.
  • Judging and critiquing of the critical thinking games during July 2023.
  • The winning critical thinking games will be announced after Labor Day Weekend 2023.
Critical Thinking cat is considering the value of giant balls of yarn as a prize while reconsidering the notion of 'bigger is better'.

Critical Thinking Game Prizes

A total of $10,000 (USD) awarded in prize money to the Finalists.

Distribution of prize money will be announced when the Winning games are announced. At least one Winning game will receive at least $3,000 (USD). Each Finalist will receive at least $100 (USD). Additional Winning Games might be selected from among the Finalists.

In addition to the prize money:

  • All qualifying Finalists will have their games judged and critiqued by industry and subject matter experts.
  • All qualifying Finalists will be granted a license to use the FINALIST graphic.
  • The Winning game(s) will be granted a license to use the WINNER graphic.
  • The Finalist and Winning game(s) will be promoted on Jennifer Ann's Group websites and on their profile pages at game marketplaces.
  • The Winning game(s) will be published by Life Love Publishing once they are ready to be published.
  • All Finalists will receive critiques about their game entry from the critical thinking game contest judges.
  • More details available in the Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge Rules below.
► Jennifer Ann's Group is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and relies on donations, sponsorships, and grants to fund our violence prevention work.
Like what we're doing? Donate online to support our innovative violence prevention work.

Judges: Critical Thinking Games Design Challenge

Susan Bonner, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Susan Bonner

Susan Bonner (she/her) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University teaching in the Serious Games Certificate and the Games and Interactive Media program. Educational games she produced through The EPIC Project have won Serious Play and Meaningful Play Awards. She is the creator of The Road Crew Social Emotional Health Game, which aims to teach young children coping skills for anger, loneliness, and anxiety through an AR experience. Accessible, universal, and inclusive design is at the heart of her teaching, art, design, and the work she produces. Susan actively participates on panels for the National Science Foundation, specifically focusing on Small Business Innovative Research in VR, AR, AI, and Learning Cognition. Susan holds an MFA from the University of Cincinnati and a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design. Find out more at

Dr. Nick Bowman, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Nick Bowman

Nick Bowman is an Associate Professor of Emerging Media in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He is a media and communication scholar with an extensive research career focused on the uses and effects of video games. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed academic manuscripts, with recent studies focused on the functional role of video games in daily life, from video game nostalgia to use of gaming for mood management. He works with other scholars and game developers to advance the study and design of video games for prosocial purposes, including violence reduction and perspective-taking. He is the editor of the Journal of Media Psychology, and was recently the Fulbright Taiwan Wu Jing-Jyi Arts & Culture Fellow at the National Chengchi University in Taipei. He has taught courses on video games and media psychology in Belgium, Germany, Mexico, and Taiwan.

Dr. Mark Danger Chen, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Mark Danger Chen

Mark Danger Chen is an independent games scholar and part-time professor of interaction design, qualitative research, and games studies at the University of Washington Bothell. They oversee Esoteric Gaming, an alternative publication outlet that celebrates gaming diversity through detailed accounts of arcane and marginal gaming practices. Mark also wrote Leet Noobs: The Life and Death of an Expert Player Group in World of Warcraft, an ethnographic account of how a new team learned to excel through the use of game mods and then died in a fiery meltdown catalyzed by the same mods. In a previous life, Mark was a webmaster and game designer for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Mark wants a die-cast 1st generation Soundwave for Christmas. You can reach Mark at @mcdanger.

Drew Crecente, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Drew Crecente, JD

Drew Crecente (he/him) is founder and executive director of Jennifer Ann's Group, a nonprofit charity preventing teen dating violence. He also runs the Gaming Against Violence program for Jennifer Ann's Group. Drew is a teen dating violence lead at Emory's Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRCE) and a published researcher on violence prevention through video games. Drew speaks at conferences about the use of video games as a solution for violence prevention. His speaking engagements include GDC, Games for Change, Games for Health, Meaningful Play, PAX Unplugged, and Youth at Risk conferences. Drew's game production credits include ADRIFT, a consent game featured at the future-focused museum MOD in Australia; Rispek Danis, a game about healthy dating relationships designed for ni-Vanuatu youth and 2019 Games for Change Awards Finalist in the category of Most Significant Impact; and the media literacy game Culture Overlord, a 2021 Finalist for the GEE! Learning Games Award and 2022 Games for Change Awards Finalist in the category of Best Learning Game.

Sabrina Culyba, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Sabrina Culyba

Sabrina Culyba (she/her) is a Pittsburgh-based game designer and founder of Ludoliminal. Her professional work has spanned online games, VR, mobile apps, location-based entertainment, and board games across a variety of industries from healthcare to education. She is the author of The Transformational Framework (ETC Press, 2018) and has spoken on game design and the transformational power of games at a number of conferences including the Games for Change festival, Serious Play, Meaningful Play, and Dataviz+Cancer. Sabrina serves on the Board for Global Game Jam and Broke the Game. She also co-hosts the yearly XR Brain Jam at the Games for Change Festival.

Dr. Ruud Jacobs, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Ruud Jacobs

Ruud Jacobs is an assistant professor at the Department of Communication Science of the University of Twente. His research is mediapsychological, mostly focusing on the impacts of persuasive games and the ways in which they work to change attitudes. In 2017 he defended his dissertation, titled Playing to Win Over, as part of the Persuasive Gaming in Context joint research effort. Ruud lectures in technological aspects of communication science, and talks about games whenever he can.

Dr. Krista-Lee Meghan Malone, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Krista-Lee Meghan Malone

Dr. Krista-Lee M. Malone is a faculty associate with the Department of Curriculum & Instruction’s Game Design Certificate at UW-Madison and Director of the UW Game Lab. Her past research includes studies on raiding guilds in World of Warcraft, the making of educational games in Taiwan (where she concurrently worked as a designer and consultant) and using game design to teach in the social sciences. Dr. Malone is currently working on designing engaging educational games as well as examining gender issues and educational uses of and Discord. She is also a board member of MKEsports, an alliance aimed at positively growing the culture and connectivity of regional esports groups, gamers, businesses, and community partners. If you want to geek out with her, she can can be found experimenting with teaching at and experimenting with everything else at

Dr. Amy Mueller, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Amy Mueller

Amy Mueller is an assistant professor of learning technologies at the University of Oklahoma in the Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum program. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on educational and instructional technologies to pre-service and practicing educators. Prior to her arrival at the University of Oklahoma she taught 4K for Head Start and worked as a K-5 Technology Teacher at a dual language immersion program in a diverse, public, urban title-1 school. Her research interests include: culturally and linguistic responsive and sustaining education, Indigenous education, liberatory education, elementary education, games-based learning, maker education, STEM education, digital literacy, multiliteracies, design based research, and codesign & community action research. In her limited free time, she likes to play video games with her kids.

Dr. Brooke Morrill, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Brooke Morrill

Dr. Brooke Morrill serves as the Senior Director of Education at Schell Games. Morrill uses her expertise in behavioral science, psychology, and research to increase the impact of and engagement in the company’s educational and transformational games. She identifies and secures extramural project funding in both the federal and private sectors in order to create and iteratively develop innovative, interactive experiences. In addition, she collaborates with universities and research institutions for product development and evaluation. She also maintains an active Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral credential from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Morrill serves on the XR Education and Training Advisory Group for the Academy of International Extended Reality (AIXR), a membership network of industry leaders that helps to enable growth, nurture talent, and develop standards while working to bring wider public awareness and understanding to virtual and augmented reality. She is also a Principal Member of grant review panels for the Institute of Education Sciences at the US Department of Education.

Dr. Andy Phelps, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Andy Phelps

Bio coming soon.

Dr. Elizabeth L. Richeson, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Elizabeth L. Richeson

Dr. Elizabeth L. Richeson is a Psychologist in El Paso, Texas, the head of the Advisory Board for Jennifer Ann's Group, and former president of the Texas Psychological Foundation. She was recognized as the 2018 Psychologist of the Year by the Texas Psychological Association; is an expert on teen dating violence; appears regularly on news and talk shows; and lectures nationwide on a variety of issues related to teenagers, young adults, and healthy relationships. She lived and worked in a variety of settings in Japan, Micronesia, South Korea, and Thailand and wrote her doctoral dissertation on Adaptation to Geographic Relocation at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her clinical and administrative positions have included Program Director of Adult Psychiatric Units, Adjunct Professor at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and University of Maryland International, and maintaining a full-time clinical practice for more than 30 years. She is considered the area authority on eating disorders for the Air Force and Army for outpatient and inpatient treatment.

Jo Sharpen, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Jo Sharpen

Jo Sharpen is a specialist in violence against women and girls, child development and the impacts of trauma. She has a special interest in how the online space can be used to support and empower survivors of abuse. Jo is now a freelance consultant after previously being the director of policy at AVA, a national UK charity.

Dr. Sarah Stang, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Sarah Stang

Dr. Sarah Stang (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Game Studies in Brock University’s Centre for Digital Humanities. She is also the Secretary for the International Communication Association’s Game Studies Division and an At-Large Representative for the Canadian Game Studies Association. She received her PhD from the Communication & Culture program at York University and her research primarily focuses on gender representation in both digital and analog games. Her published work has analysed topics such as female monstrosity, androgyny, parenthood, interactivity, and feminist media studies, and can be found in journals such as Games and Culture, Game Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Human Technology, and Loading, as well as several edited collections.

Dr. Moses Wolfenstein, a judge for the 2023 Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge

Dr. Moses Wolfenstein

Moses Wolfenstein is a professor at El Camino College in Torrance, CA where he serves as Distance Education Faculty Coordinator and is leading the development of the new Games and Playable Media Department. Moses has been working in and around game design since 2006 as a designer, research, and teacher. His doctoral research with the Games+Learning+Society research group at UW–Madison focused on the intersection of games, learning, and leadership in MMO's.

Critical Thinking Game Pitch Submission

(Note: game pitches were due by March 19, 2023)

You are pitching an idea for a non-violent prosocial video game intended to encourage and support critical thinking and the use of critical thinking tools and strategies by the players of your game.

If you can envision a video game that will help the player use and apply critical thinking then we want to learn about your game idea. We hope you will submit your idea to the critical thinking game challenge.

An important note about the critical thinking game design challenge:

Although our organization's primary focus is on the prevention of teen dating violence, your game does not have to be about dating relationships. There are several reasons for this, but the most important reason is that we want to help all young people (ages 11-22) learn this important information in order that they are more likely to understand the value of critical thinking and are better equipped to apply critical thinking skills.

The past few years have been especially challenging. This is true for nearly everybody and in many aspects. We believe some, if not all, of those challenges would have been easier to navigate were we all better equipped to use and apply critical thinking.

We believe that intentionally designed video games are an ideal approach to helping young people appreciate and understand how to use critical thinking skills. Our hope is that these critical thinking games will be used by: educators in classrooms; by parents and trusted adults at home; and directly by young people themselves. If we were to limit the critical thinking game design challenge to narrowly focus on the topic of healthy dating relationships then that might limit the reach and use of these critical thinking games.

With that said, you are welcome to incorporate themes about healthy relationships into your critical thinking video game should you choose to do so.

Round One: game pitches were due by March 19th, 2023

These questions were answered by those submitting a game pitch.

Critical Thinking Game Pitch Questions

  • (Q1) What is the title of your critical thinking game?
  • (Q2) Write a short description of your critical thinking game. After reading this description players should want to play your game. (100-150 words)
  • (Q3) How will your critical thinking game use visual and auditory elements to engage and inform players about critical thinking and how best to use it? (100-150 words)
  • (Q4) How will your critical thinking game effectively use game mechanics, storytelling, and/or rhetoric to engage and inform players about critical thinking and its importance? (Please realize that this means that your game does not have to be story-based; it may use other design strategies or it may be story-based, as you prefer.) (100-150 words)
  • (Q5) How will your critical thinking game effectively use persuasion to engage and inform players about critical thinking and its importance? (100-150 words)
  • (Q6) How will your game help players identify critical thinking skills and learn how to strengthen those skills in order to help them become better able to use critical thinking in their lives? (100-150 words)

Round Two: were due by end of June 2023

Finalists were notified by March 30, 2023 if their proposed game pitch was selected to move on to Round Two of the contest. For Round Two, Finalists were given until June 30, 2023 to design, develop, and complete their critical thinking game. The finished critical thinking games will then be reviewed and scored to determine the winner.

Details regarding technical requirements, final judging guidelines, and any other pertinent information were distributed to the Critical Thinking Game Finalists. However, here are some suggestions and limitations:

  • No VR or AR games. We want to reach as many people as possible with these critical thinking games and we feel that VR and AR technologies are currently too limiting.
  • No subscription-based services. We cannot afford to pay for recurring subscriptions.
  • Ideally you will use Unity to develop your game. Due to its large user base it is easier for us to get support if needed and the majority of the games we have published in the past were developed using Unity. Also, it is generally easier for us to export Unity games to a variety of platforms. Importantly, Unity supports exporting to HTML5. Browser-based games are often more accessible because they can be played, for example, in public libraries and at schools. We strive to publish games that are accessible.
  • Some suggested game design engines: Godot, Unity, and Unreal Engine. If you are wondering about a particular engine or technology please contact us.

Critical thinking cat has some frequently asked questions.

Critical Thinking Games: FAQs

About this Contest

What is the Life.Love. Game Design Challenge?

The Life.Love. Game Design Challenge is an annual game design contest focused on violence prevention. The contest is open to game designers and game developers around the world. Entries have been received from six continents. Designers and developers are invited to create their own prosocial games intended to engage, educate, and empower game players. This contest is from the award-winning Gaming Against Violence program presented by the nonprofit charity Jennifer Ann's Group. The games are published, localized, and maintained by Life Love Publishing.

Why is Jennifer Ann's Group running this contest?

Violence is a public health issue and games are an effective approach at engaging young people about serious and complex issues. Jennifer Ann's Group is a non-profit organization working to prevent violence since 2006 in memory of Jennifer Ann Crecente.

Although traditional outreach programs about violence prevention are available, many schools lack the funding to implement these programs and so Jennifer Ann's Group considered how to leverage technology to reach and help young people at no cost. Given the popularity of video games -- especially among young people -- Jennifer Ann's Group launched the first annual Life.Love. Game Design Challenge in 2008, challenging video game designers to create prosocial games intended to prevent dating violence. In 2023, for the 16th annual Life.Love. Game Design Challenge, the focus is on supporting the use of critical thinking skills by young people to help them be better informed and self-sufficient. These skills will lead to better outcomes for themselves and for those around them. This will help them to lead happier, healthier lives.

In the years since launching the contest it has become increasingly clear that games are fantastic tools for engaging players in uniquely compelling ways. As compared to traditional methods: players more easily understand complex, nuanced issues; they become invested and engaged in the success of the game's outcome; and they can safely explore and experience difficult situations in context.

Every year since 2008 Jennifer Ann's Group has presented an annual game design competition encouraging developers to create games about selected themes intended to help young people in the short term and benefit society in the long term. Prosocial games help engage, educate, and empower young people around the world.

What else can you tell me about the games that have come from this program?

Games produced since 2008: More than seventy
Game themes and topics: bystander awareness, consent, culture, gaslighting, healthy relationships, media literacy, power & control dynamics, resilience, and teen dating violence warning signs
Countries represented by the games from the Gaming Against Violence program: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, England, France, India, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, United States, and Vanuatu
Published marketplaces and channels (past and present): Amazon App Store; Amazon Echo; Apple App Store; Blackberry World; GameJolt; Google Play; HTML5;; Steam; Windows Phone
Select published games: ADRIFT (consent) | Quinn Crossley and Andrew Connell | USA
Culture Overlord (culture, healthy relationships, media literacy) | Lucas Vially | France
Grace's Diary (teen dating violence, bystander awareness) | GP Touch | Thailand
HONEYMOON (healthy relationships) | Sandra Lara Castillo | England
Lamplight Hollow (gaslighting, bystander awareness) | Luciano Sgarbi | England
One New Message (resilience) | Eloise Best | England
Rispek Danis (consent, healthy relationships) | Jared Sain | USA
Sea of Roses (culture, healthy relationships) | Crescent Tea Studios | Portugal
Stuck in a Dark Place (consent) | Another Kind | Belgium
UnEarth (resilience) | Robin Ghosh | Canada
Select awards and honors: Grace's Diary, Community Pillar Grant, Penny Arcade (2010)
Gaming Against Violence, Trailblazer, Break the Cycle (2014)
Jennifer Ann's Group, Media Mover Award finalist, TAG Digital Media & Entertainment Industry (2016)
Rispek Danis, Games for Change Awards finalist, "Most Significant Impact" (2019)
Lamplight Hollow, Jungle Jam, Dreamhack Anaheim (2020)
Jennifer Ann's Group, Torchbearer, DeKalb County, GA (2020)
Sea of Roses, GEE Educational Games Award finalist (2021)
Culture Overlord, GEE Educational Games Award finalist (2021)
Gaming Against Violence, Top 50 Nonprofit Program, Classy Awards finalist (2022)
Culture Overlord, Games for Change Awards finalist, "Best Learning Game" (2022)
Everytown Survivor Network, Everytown Survivor Network Grant (2022)
Select media coverage: The Hollywood Reporter: "Video Games Against Violence...",
AJC: "Video games created to change...",
France 24: "Consent and Sex on Screen in Post #MeToo Era",
Fast Company: "Games to Educate Teens About Dating Violence"
El Paso Herald Post: "El Paso ISD Collaborates...",
Huffington Post: "Call of Moral Duty - Making Games for Change",
Gamasutra: "Best of Indie Games",
VentureBeat: "Games Doing Good...",
Polygon: "Video games really can prevent violence"
We love what you're doing, how can we support you? Wow, thank you! All support is greatly appreciated. As a registered charity, donations are exempt to the full extent allowed by law. You can easily and safely make a donation online here.

Sponsorship opportunities as a prize sponsor or media sponsor are available. Please contact Jennifer Ann's Group at:  contact (at) JenniferAnn (dot) org.

Entry Information

How do I get started?

Game pitches for the Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge were due by March 19, 2023. However, the 2024 game design challenge is coming February 2024 with the topic of connectedness. Visit the website for the connectedness video games for the latest info.

Who is allowed to enter?

Anybody age 13+ at the time of entry is eligible to enter (except in countries or regions where prohibited). Officers, employees, and immediate family members of Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing are prohibited from entering the game design challenge.

Can I enter more than once?

Sorry, but no. Make sure and enter your best game because you only get one chance to enter each year!

What are the technical requirements?

Round One of the contest only requires submitting the text of your proposed game narrative. If you are selected as a Finalist you will receive all necessary information for Round Two, including any technical requirements for your final game entry. There are some notes in the Critical Thinking Game Pitch Submission section, including some technical suggestions and limitations.

Our intention is to be as flexible and supportive of as many different formats as possible but we do need to be able to reliably judge the games and, in the event that it is a winning game, be able to: modify the game; make the game available through various channels; possibly translate the game into other languages; and also to provide support for game players. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask us.

What are the content requirements?

As with all of our game design challenges no violent content is permitted in the game entries. Games should be age-appropriate for those ages 11 and up.

How long do I have to enter?

Registration was from March 7, 2023 through March 19, 2023. The Finalists were notified by March 30, 2023 and had until June 30, 2023 to submit their finished game.

Do you accept group entries?

Yes - please just identify a primary contact person when you submit your game pitch on the Round One submission form.

Where can I learn more about critical thinking?

Visit the About Critical Thinking section for information and resources about critical thinking.

How can I keep up to date about the contest info?

Register for our newsletter to be notified about our next game design challenge.

You can also follow the Critical Thinking Mastodon account at:

Finalists will be invited to join our Discord server.

Judging and Selection Process

What criteria will be used for judging?

Round One of the contest will be judged based on the creativity of your proposed game pitch and the potential for that idea to be developed into a compelling video game which will help players: be more aware of the importance of critical thinking; be better informed about critical thinking skills; have strategies to strengthen skills associated with critical thinking; and as a result, be generally better at making informed decisions and become more self sufficient.

Judging details and scoring rubric for Round Two were distributed to all Finalists at the time that they were notified of their Finalist status.

Information about the judges, including their bios, will be added to the contest website June 2023.

Critical Thinking Cat is thinking about the rules for the Critical Thinking Game Design Challenge.

Critical Thinking Games: Official Rules

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Void where prohibited. Entry in this contest constitutes your acceptance of these official rules.

The 2023 Life.Love. Game Design Challenge (the "Contest") is designed to encourage participants ("Entrant(s)" or "You") to use their creativity to create their own video game that helps players of the game: be more aware of the importance of critical thinking; be better informed about skills supporting the use of critical thinking; have strategies to strengthen skills associated with critical thinking; and feel more empowered through the use of critical thinking, especially for those players in the approximate age range of 11 - 22 years of age (the "Target Age Group"). Life Love Publishing and/or its representatives will select Finalists ("Finalists") from those eligible entries submitted in Round One. Finalists will be eligible to participate in Round Two and will submit completed games. Judges will choose the winning entries from the Round Two eligible Finalist submissions and prizes will be awarded in accordance with these Official Rules (these "Rules").

  1. BINDING AGREEMENT: In order to enter the Contest, you must agree to the Rules. Therefore, please read these Rules prior to entry to ensure you understand and agree. You agree that submission of an entry in the Contest constitutes agreement to these Rules and that you may not submit an entry to the Contest and are not eligible to receive the prizes described in these Rules unless you agree to these Rules. These Rules form a binding legal agreement between you, Jennifer Ann's Group, and Life Love Publishing with respect to the Contest.

  2. ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible to enter the Contest, an Entrant must: (a) be 13 years of age (or older) at time of entry; and (b) have obtained a parent's or legal guardian's prior permission if under the age of majority ("Minors") in their jurisdiction. Minors who enter must have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian in order to be eligible to receive any prizes, as described in Section 8 of these Rules. Contest is void where prohibited by law. Employees, interns, contractors, and official office-holders of Jennifer Ann's Group, Life Love Publishing, and any affiliates, and their respective directors, officers, employees, advertising and promotion agencies, representatives, and agents ("Contest Entities") are ineligible to participate in this Contest.

  3. SPONSOR: The Contest is sponsored by the Jennifer Ann Crecente Memorial Group, Inc. d/b/a Jennifer Ann's Group("Jennifer Ann's Group" or "Sponsor"), a Georgia non-profit corporation (501 c(3)) with principal place of business at 2554 Drew Valley Rd NE, Atlanta, GA, 30319, USA. (EIN: 20-4618499).


    The contest period is from March 7, 2023 through August, 2023.

    Round One of the Contest begins on March 7, 2023 and ends on March 19, 2023 at 11:59pm Eastern Time (ET) Zone (GMT-4) ("Round One Contest Period").

    Round Two of the Contest begins on March 30, 2023 and ends on June 30, 2023 at 11:59pm Eastern Time (ET) Zone (GMT-4) ("Round Two Contest Period"). All dates are subject to change.

    Winning Games will be announced in August or September, 2023.

  5. HOW TO ENTER: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. To enter the Contest, visit the Contest website located at ("Contest Site") during the Contest Period and follow the instructions that appear in the "Critical Thinking Game Submission" section. You will be requested to complete an official entry form ("Entry Form") with all requested information, including your responses, or "game pitch", to the questions about your proposed critical thinking game ("Game Narrative"). Entry Forms can only be submitted by Entrants. Those Entrants notified by Jennifer Ann's Group that they have been selected to proceed to Round Two of the Contest ("Finalists") shall participate in Round Two of the Contest by submitting their completed game entry ("Completed Game").

    LIMIT ONE (1) GAME NARRATIVE PER ENTRANT IN ROUND ONE. Subsequent entries will replace, and be treated as, the initial entry. Any submission not meeting the aforementioned criteria will be disqualified. Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing accepts no responsibility for submissions lost, delayed, damaged, defaced, or mislaid, howsoever caused. All entries will be deemed made by the Entrant submitted at the time of entry.

    LIMIT ONE (1) COMPLETED GAME PER FINALIST IN ROUND TWO. Subsequent entries will replace, and be treated as, the initial entry. Any submission not meeting the aforementioned criteria will be disqualified. Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing accepts no responsibility for submissions lost, delayed, damaged, defaced, or mislaid, howsoever caused. All entries will be deemed made by the Entrant submitted at the time of entry.

  6. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS. The Game Narrative submissions for Round One and Completed Game submissions for Round Two must meet the following criteria ("Entry Requirements"):

    1. They must not contain any depictions of violence.

    2. They must not be derogatory, offensive, threatening, defamatory, disparaging, libellous or contain any content that is tortuous, slanderous, discriminatory in any way, or that promotes hatred or harm against any group or person, or otherwise does not comply with the theme and spirit of the Contest.

    3. They must be unique creations that have not been previously published and will remain unpublished until after the contest has ended.

    4. They must not contain content, material or any element that is unlawful, or otherwise in violation of, or contrary to, any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations including the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where the entry is created.

    5. They must not contain any content, material, or element that displays any third party advertising, slogan, logo, trademark, or otherwise indicates a sponsorship or endorsement by a third party or commercial entity. For Round Two Finalists, text acknowledgements are acceptable in the Completed Game entries; additionally, Jennifer Ann's Group will supply a graphic image identifying Jennifer Ann's Group as the game's sponsor; the image will be placed at an appropriate location as part of the Finalist's Completed Game entry.

    6. They must only contain text, graphics, audio, designs, and game mechanics that entrants have proper rights to use (e.g. works in the public domain; original creations by the entrant; third-party works with rights granted by rights owner).

    7. They cannot contain any content, element, or material that violates a third party's publicity, privacy, or intellectual property rights.
    • During the Contest Period, the Sponsor, its agents and/or the Judges will be evaluating the Entries to ensure they meet the Entry Requirements. The Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any Entrant who submits an entry that does not meet the Entry Requirements. Incomplete entries or entries not complying with these Rules are subject to disqualification.
  7. ROUND ONE JUDGING: Each Game Narrative will be evaluated based on the following "Criteria":
    1. potential educational value of the proposed game to discuss, demonstrate, or otherwise engage players about critical thinking and its importance, especially for those in the Target Age Group
    2. potential entertainment or otherwise compelling value of the proposed game
    3. potential of the proposed game to increase awareness about critical thinking and its importance
    4. potential of the proposed game to encourage discourse about critical thinking and its importance
    5. potential of the proposed game to persuade game players about critical thinking and its importance
    6. potential of the proposed game to help players identify critical thinking skills and learn how to strengthen those skills in order to help the player become more adept at using critical thinking
    7. game elements of the proposed game
    8. adherence to the Game Narrative, Entry Requirements, and these Rules.
    ROUND TWO JUDGING: Each Completed Game will be evaluated and scored based on the following "Criteria":
    1. educational value of the game to discuss, demonstrate, or otherwise engage players about critical thinking and its importance, especially for those players in the Target Age Group
    2. entertainment or otherwise compelling value of the game
    3. potential of the game to increase awareness about critical thinking and its importance
    4. potential of the game to encourage discourse about critical thinking and its importance
    5. potential of the game to persuade game players about critical thinking and its importance
    6. potential of the game to help players identify critical thinking skills and learn how to strengthen those skills in order to help the player become more adept at using critical thinking
    7. game elements
    8. adherence to the Game, Entry Requirements, and these Rules.
    The above Criteria will be used to score all Completed Games. The Completed Game with the highest score will be deemed the "Winning Game". There will be at least one Winning Game; at the sole discretion of the Sponsor, there might be more than one Winning Game. Entries from Finalists that are not Winning Games are considered "Non-Winning Finalists" for purposes of these Rules.
  8. Notifications:

    • Round One Finalists Finalists will be notified on or before March 30, 2023 by email.

    • Potential Winners Potential winners will be notified August 2023 by email.

    • Decisions of the judges are final and binding. In the event there are not enough eligible entries, not all prizes will be awarded. If a potential winner is unable for whatever reason to accept their prize, then Life Love Publishing reserves the right to award the prize to another entrant.

    • Notification of Potential Finalists / Winning Game(s): Becoming a Finalist / Winning Game is subject to validation and verification of eligibility and compliance with all the terms and conditions set forth in these Rules. If a potential Finalist is disqualified for any reason, a replacement Game Narrative Entry entrant might be chosen as a potential Finalist. If a potential Winning Game is disqualified for any reason, the Completed Game that received the next highest total score will be chosen as the potential Winning Game. The potential Finalist(s) / Winning Game(s) will be selected and notified by email.

    • If a potential Finalist does not respond to the notification attempt within three (3) days from the first notification attempt, then such potential Finalist may be disqualified and an alternate potential Finalist might be selected from among all eligible Game Narrative entries received based on the judging Criteria described herein.

    • If the Entrant of a potential Winning Game does not respond to the notification attempt within three (3) days from the first notification attempt, then such potential Winning Game may be disqualified and an alternate potential Winning Game will be selected from among all eligible entries received based on the judging Criteria described herein.

    • Except where prohibited by law, all Prize Winners will be required to sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and Publicity Release and provide any additional information that may be required by Sponsor. If required, Prize Winners must return all such required documents via fax (or as otherwise instructed) within forty-eight (48) hours following attempted notification or such potential Prize Winners will be deemed to have forfeited the prize and another potential Prize Winner may be selected based on the judging Criteria described herein.

    • In the event the potential Prize Winner is a minor, their parent or legal guardian must sign the documents and return them as described herein. All notification requirements, as well as other requirements within these Rules, will be strictly enforced. Determinations of Judges are final and binding. All Prize Winners, including any parent representatives, agree to keep the Completed Game strictly confidential between time of submission and the Completed Game's final launch by Life Love Publishing.
  9. PRIZES:

    The entrant of the Winning Game will be eligible to receive a minimum of $3,000 (USD) prize money. An announcement about the Winning Game(s) will be displayed on Jennifer Ann's Group's game portal website and page for the remainder of 2023.

    All Non-Winning Finalists will be eligible to receive a minimum of $100 (USD) prize money upon submitting their completed game in accordance with these rules. Some Non-Winning Finalists may also have their games published on the website and/or page.

    A total of $10,000 (USD) in prize money will be distributed among all Winners and Finalists, subject to the minimum prize monies described above. Distribution of prize money will be announced when the Winning Games are announced. Additional Winning Games might be selected from among the Finalists.

    Further details regarding prize distribution will be provided to winners in the prize acceptance documents but will be approximately four (4) to six (6) weeks after Sponsor's receipt of prize acceptance documents from winners.

    All entrants receiving prize money are considered prize winners ("Prize Winners") for purposes of these Rules.

  10. TAXES: Prize Winners are responsible for any federal, state, and local tax consequences and for compliance with all governmental reporting and payment requirements. Winning funds will be sent in U.S. Dollars via cashier's check through Postal Mail or via PayPal (at the option of the winners).

  11. GENERAL CONDITIONS: At the time of submitting a Completed Game all Round Two Finalists will also electronically provide to Life Love Publishing all source files and components necessary to re-create the Completed Game ("Source Files"). Life Love Publishing and/or Jennifer Ann's Group may use these Source Files to publish the Completed Game to marketplaces; provide language translations; update content; develop derivative works; and / or to localize such game for other countries at Life Love Publishing and/or Jennifer Ann's Group's sole discretion.

  12. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: All Prize Winners give Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing the right to the Entrant's name, voice, picture, portrait, and likeness for advertising and promotion purposes without further compensation, where permitted by law. All Prize Winners also give their consent to Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing and to those whom they may authorize, to photograph, film, videotape, and/or to use a photographic / digital reproduction of their entry with or without their name, to identify them by name, and/or to quote or record statements made by them, for any editorial, promotional, marketing, or other purpose broadly related to the mission of Jennifer Ann's Group ("violence prevention"). This consent does not extend to the purposes of endorsement of product or service advertising for any unrelated third parties. As a condition of receiving their prize, Prize Winners must grant Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing the non-exclusive, royalty-free, licensable, assignable rights to all: completed, object, and source files; necessary media files; and associated intellectual property rights of their entry for purposes of publishing, promotion, marketing, research, creation of derivative works, and internal use.

  13. WARRANTY AND INDEMNITY: Entrants warrant that their entries are their own original work and, as such, they are the sole and exclusive owner and rights holder of the submitted Game Narrative / Completed Game and that they have the right to submit the Game Narrative / Completed Game to the Contest and to grant all required licenses. Each Entrant agrees not to submit any Game Narrative / Completed Game that: (a) infringes any third party proprietary rights, intellectual property rights, industrial property rights, personal or moral rights or any other rights, including without limitation, copyright, trademark, trade names, industrial designs, patent, trade secret, privacy, publicity or confidentiality obligations; or (b) otherwise violates applicable international, state, federal, or local law.

    To the maximum extent permitted by law, Entrant indemnifies and agrees to keep indemnified Sponsor and its agents and subsidiaries at all times from and against any liability, claims, demands, losses, damages, costs, and expenses resulting from any act, default, or omission of the Entrant and/or a breach of any warranty set forth herein. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Entrant agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless Sponsor and its agents and subsidiaries from and against any and all claims, actions, suits, or proceedings, as well as any and all losses, liabilities, damages, costs, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys fees) arising out of or accruing from: (i) any Game Narrative / Completed Game or other material uploaded or otherwise provided by Entrant that infringes any copyright, trademark, trade secret, trade dress, patent, or other intellectual property right of any person or defames any person or violates their rights of publicity or privacy; (ii) any misrepresentation made by Entrant in connection with the Contest; (iii) any non-compliance by Entrant with these Rules; (iv) claims brought by persons or entities other than the parties to these Rules arising from or related to Entrant's involvement with the Contest; (v) acceptance, possession, misuse, or use of any prize or participation in any Contest-related activity or participation in the Contest; (vi) any malfunction or other problem with the Contest Site in relation to the entry and participation in the Contest by Entrant; (vii) any error in the collection, processing, or retention of entry or voting information in relation to the entry and participation in the Contest by Entrant and in the voting process; or (viii) any typographical or other error in the printing, offering, or announcement of any prize or winners in relation to the entry and participation in the Contest by Entrant.

  14. ELIMINATION: Any false information provided within the context of the Contest by Entrant concerning identity, mailing address, email address, ownership of right, or non-compliance with these Rules or the like may result in the immediate elimination of the entrant from the Contest.

  15. INTERNET AND DISCLAIMER: Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing are not responsible for any malfunction of the entire Contest Site or any late, lost, damaged, misdirected, incomplete, illegible, undeliverable, or destroyed entries due to system errors, failed, incomplete or garbled computer or other telecommunication transmission malfunctions, hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, typographical, or system/human errors and failures, technical malfunction(s) of any telephone network or lines, cable connections, satellite transmissions, servers or providers, or computer equipment, traffic congestion on the Internet or at the Contest Site, or any combination thereof, including other telecommunication, cable, digital, or satellite malfunctions which may limit Entrant's ability to participate. Jennifer Ann's Group is not responsible for the policies, actions, or inactions of others which might prevent Entrant from entering, participating, and/or claiming a prize in this Contest. Sponsor's failure to enforce any term of these Rules will not constitute a waiver of that or any other provision. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify Entrants who violate the rules or interfere with this Contest in any manner. If an Entrant is disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate that Entrant's eligibility to participate in the Contest.

  16. RIGHT TO CANCEL, MODIFY, OR DISQUALIFY: If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest, Jennifer Ann's Group reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Contest. Jennifer Ann's Group further reserves the right to disqualify any Entrant who tampers with the submission process or any other part of the Contest or Contest Site. Any attempt by an Entrant to deliberately damage any web site, including the Contest Site, or undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Jennifer Ann's Group and Life Love Publishing reserve the right to seek damages from any such Entrant to the fullest extent of the applicable law.

### End of Rules (July 20, 2023) ###

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