2023 Games for change awards

The Games for Change Awards celebrate the year's best games and XR experiences for social impact and learning. All awards are competitive, and submissions go through three rounds of evaluation from panels of experts, including leaders in games, learning, social impact, media, and technology play games. At the end of the evaluation, G4C will recognize four finalists in each award category, from which winners will be determined. Finalists will be showcased during the Festival, and winners will be announced during the in-person Awards Ceremony on July 19.

Check out more information about categories and submission criteria below!

SUBMIT YOUR GAME

Award Descriptions

NEW!

Best Board or Tabletop Game for Impact

Recognizes physical tabletop games that raise awareness, foster meaningful change, and engage players around learning objectives or specific social issues.*

Judging Criteria:

  • Does the game take advantage of the unique affordances of the physical medium (tactile pieces, thematic ties, replayability, and game length) to reinforce a memorable and resonant experience for the player?

  • How and to what degree does the game address a specific social issue or learning goal? To what degree can the team measure their impact on that issue?

  • What impact does the game have on its audience? How does the overall game experience affect the player?

  • To what extent is the development team collaborating with external stakeholders or subject matter experts to develop, evaluate, and verify a theory of change?

*Additional digital components are limited to tablets or smartphone only. Best Board Game submissions are not eligible for additional awards. Submitters are responsible for shipping their game and ensuring it arrives in time for judging, as well as postage should they want their game returned.

Most Innovative

Recognizes games that embrace experimentation and novel creative expression to pave new ways for the medium.

Judging Criteria:

  • Are the developers using the medium of games to address a theme or subject in a unique and meaningful way?

  • How creatively and technically experimental is the game? To what degree does the game break with conventions of standard form (i.e., “go against the grain”)?

  • To what degree does the game provoke or encourage new ideas and associations within the player?

Best Gameplay

Recognizes games whose mechanics reinforce the intended impact of the game and  demonstrate highly compelling, polished, and engaging gameplay.

Judging Criteria:

  • How well does the core gameplay loop support the project’s impact goals?

  • How well does the game's design reinforce a memorable and resonant experience for the player?

  • Does the game's design, art direction, and technical performance actively support the minute-to-minute gameplay experience?

Most Significant Impact

Recognizes games that raise awareness and/or foster meaningful change within specific social issues.*

Judging Criteria:

  • How and to what degree does the game address a specific social issue? To what degree can the team measure their impact on that issue?

  • What impact does the game have on its audience? How does the overall game experience affect the player?

  • Are there associated indicators (preliminary outcomes, internal research, or public testimonials) demonstrating an achieved impact in the real world? If the game is recently released, is there a high impact potential?

  • To what extent is the development team collaborating with external stakeholders or subject matter experts to develop, evaluate, and verify a theory of change?

*Additional Requirements: To compete in this category, developers must share supplemental documentation that summarizes the game’s current impact objectives. Various formats and types of 'impact documentation' are welcomed (such as internal data, third-party research, testimonials, etc.). This category is NOT limited to games that have completed a formal impact assessment.

Best Learning Game

Recognizes games that offer meaningful engagement around learning objectives and successfully balance the 'learning' with fun, engaging gameplay.*

Judging Criteria:

  • Does the game have clearly defined learning objectives? Does the game balance learning outcomes with an engaging gameplay experience?

  • How does the game incorporate common learning modalities or contemporary learning research?

  • Can players effectively track their learning progress within the game, either via data collection, metric reporting, or otherwise?

*Additional Requirements: To compete in this category, developers must share supplemental documentation that summarizes the game's intended learning objectives, audience and assessment results (i.e., internal data, third-party research, subjective information, and conjecture).

Best Civics Game

Recognizes games that inspire responsible citizenship by bridging gaps between communities and shedding light on the most pressing social issues of our time.*

Judging Criteria:

  • To what extent are complex social systems represented in the game, and how analogous are those representations to the real world? Does the game require the player to grapple with or recognize their role(s) as an individual within these systems?

  • Does the game inspire civic action in real-world spaces outside of the game? Are players taking lessons from the game to engage with their local community or society?

  • Does the game foster new understanding and connection between different/disparate communities?

*Additional Requirements: To compete in this category, developers must share supplemental documentation that summarizes the game's intended impact objectives, audience and assessment results (i.e. internal data, third-party research, subjective information, and conjecture).

Best Health Game

Recognizes games that promote exceptionally positive health and wellness outcomes in the players/patients that use them.*

Judging Criteria:

  • Does the game have clearly defined healthcare/wellness objectives? Does the game balance these intended outcomes with an engaging gameplay experience?

  • How does the game incorporate common healthcare/wellness modalities or contemporary healthcare research?

  • Can players effectively track their progress via data collection, metric reporting, or otherwise?

*Additional Requirements: To compete in this category, developers must submit supplemental documentation that summarizes the game's intended health/wellness objectives, audience and assessment results (i.e. internal data, third-party research, subjective information, and conjecture).

Best Narrative Game

Recognizes games that tell thematic and powerful stories about social impact causes through character, narrative, and interactivity. 

Judging Criteria:

  • Does the message/moral of the game inspire real-world action that supports the observed impact goal?

  • How thoughtfully crafted are the characters in the game? Do characters enter into conflict that supports or colors the impact goal of the game?

  • How does the narrative structure of the game amplify the impact goal? Are scenarios and/or dialogue written in a way that immerses the player in the story?

  • How does the player progress the narrative through play? To what degree are players able to purposefully influence the narrative?

Best XR for Change Experience

Recognizes exemplary virtual, augmented, or mixed reality experiences that foster meaningful change within specific social issues.*

Judging Criteria:

  • How and to what degree does the experience inspire change within a specific social issue or impact goal?

  • Does the experience take advantage of the unique affordances of the XR medium (immersion, embodiment, and presence) to reinforce a memorable and resonant experience for the player?

  • How creatively and technically adventurous is the experience? To what degree does the experience seek to define conventions of form?

*Please note this category is NOT limited to games; submissions may include all types of immersive experiences, excluding non-interactive 360 videos. We strongly recommend that all XR experiences upload video documentation in the 'Supporting Materials' section to support the XR jurors with the review process. Examples include a gameplay video or recording of the experience.

Best Student Game

Recognizes games developed by college and university students that successfully address important social issues.*

Judging Criteria:

  • How and to what degree does the game address a specific social issue?

  • Is there an exceptional degree of polish to the project relative to the team’s size and experience, such as thorough game design, art direction, and technical performance?

  • How well does the game's design reinforce a memorable and resonant experience for the player?

*Additional Requirements: Games submitting for this category must be created by students during the 2022-2023 school year. Students will be asked to verify their enrollment status during the game's development period (via uploading a student ID, transcript, etc.). Best Student Game submissions are not eligible for additional award categories.

Additional Recognitions

Vanguard Award

The G4C Vanguard Award is given annually to a notable individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the games for change community.

Industry Leadership Award

Recognizes companies that are doing exemplary social impact work within the games industry.

G4C Accessibility Award

Honors a game that represents a substantial advancement in games accessibility to reach a wider and more inclusive player base.

G4C Giving Award

Honors companies, organizations, and recipients who give monetary contributions back to the community through fundraising initiatives, scholarships, and donations.

G4C People's Choice Award

G4C invites the public to vote for the People’s Choice Award, selecting their favorite game from the year’s G4C Awards nominees. Finalists from the following categories are automatically entered into the People's Choice Award competition: Best Gameplay, Most Innovative, Best Learning Game, Most Significant Impact, and Best Narrative Game.

Game of the Year

Our grand prize! Game of the Year is awarded to an exemplary game that demonstrates impact, innovation, and gameplay, exemplifying what it means to be a 'game for change'. Finalists from the following categories are automatically entered into the People's Choice Award competition: Best Gameplay, Most Innovative, Best Learning Game, Most Significant Impact, and Best Narrative Game.

SUBMISSION CRITERIA & ELIGIBILITY

All eligible submissions must meet the following basic criteria for consideration:

RELEASE DATE

The game's launch date must fall between January 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023. A game cannot be submitted to the G4C Awards more than once (games submitted to previous G4C Awards will not be considered for competition).

SUBMISSION DEADLINE

The submission deadline is February 06, 2023, @ 11:59 PM ET.

SOCIAL IMPACT THEME

All games must fall within the broad confines of being a ‘game for change,' addressing real-world challenges, improving people's lives, driving social change, serving as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts, inspiring learning, encouraging empathy, or making a difference.

DIGITAL FORMAT

  • All submissions must be in a digital format and be fully playable.

  • Digital projects with installations that are no longer running, such as alternate reality games (ARGs) or live-action games, must include documentation of the game in a digital file format.

  • We cannot consider games that do not have digital components unless submitting for the Best Board Game for impact award.

  • We cannot accommodate receiving digital games with physical components, but we will still accept your submission! If your game uses physical materials or requires custom hardware or wearables, we will ask that you record and upload a short video demo of your game to share with the judges.

GAME ACCESS

To review your submission, we will require 15 fully playable versions of your digital game for jurors, whether through a link to your website, Dropbox, download codes, etc.

CATEGORY REQUIREMENTS

In addition to the general G4C Awards eligibility criteria, certain categories may have specific submission requirements.

JURY PROCESS

The G4C Awards process incorporates three rounds of jury review, which take place between March - May 2023. Each submission is evaluated by panels of jurors both quantitatively and qualitatively using the Award Categories rubrics. Jurors include leading experts from diverse fields, including game design/development, technology, media, learning, social impact, and more. Nominees and finalists are not selected by staff or board members of Games for Change and are exclusively determined by the annual G4C Awards Jury.