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; itch.io; 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.
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: games.ngo/@CriticalThinkingGames.
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.