Google launched the Change the Game initiative a few months ago in an effort to empower teenage girls to design games of their own. Now, it’s announcing the winners, who will get prizes that include an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles, where they’ll tour Google’s L.A. campus, a scholarship to the Girls Make Games Summer Camp, and more. Not only that, but the top winner could also share her vision for the future of gaming and have a chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship and a $15,000 scholarship for her school’s technology program.
The grand prize winner is 17-year-old Christine, who developed a side-scrolling puzzle game in which you’ll play the role of a shape-shifting girl named Mazu, who has to solve puzzles to make her way through unfamiliar terrain.
There were four other finalists too. Eighth grader Dakota designed EcoVerse, a series of mini games in which you’ll clean and restore animal and plant life as part of the Galactic Restoration Team. Lily, a 9th grader, designed The Other Realm, an RPG game, adventure game, and puzzle game all in one that involves players uncovering clues about the main characters back story. Next up is 12th-grader Erin, who designed a game in which you’ll play the role of a famous musician’s granddaughter as she discovers his favorite music scattered throughout the world. Last but not least is 11th-grader Lauren, who designed Palette, a game for artists that involves mixing together different colors to match the target color. As you go, you’ll reveal a famous painting.
The new competition was launched in partnership with Girls Make Games, which is aimed at empowering female developers for all platforms, and the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, which supports the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program and encourages kids and young adults to apply STEM concepts to real-life scenarios.
Change the Game was first launched last year in an effort to shine a light on the underrepresentation of women in mobile gaming. According to Google’s research, only 27 percent of the mobile game industry identifies as female or transgender. Despite that, 86 percent of teenage girls play games on a computer, console, or mobile device, and 81 percent of teenage girls talk about these games with their friends. In other words, while teenage girls certainly play games, they’re underrepresented in the gaming industry as a whole.
“Our mission is to make mobile gaming truly for everyone by celebrating and empowering women as players and creators. To do this, we’re committed to improving gender diversity in three areas of the mobile gaming world,” says Google on the Change the Game website.
Hopefully, the competition will help not only empower female developers but specifically empower young female developers — which could go on to help contribute to a more inclusive gaming industry that represents all different kinds of people.
Updated on June 11: Google has announced the winners of the Change the Game initiative.