Feb 1, 2021 Open for Submissions
April 1, 2021 Deadline to Submit Games
April/May 2021 Jury Evaluation Period
May/June 2021 Award Ceremonies (in each city)



  • Any student enrolled in a public or charter middle/high school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the greater metro areas of Atlanta and Detroit.
  • The Competition is open to the following grade levels in each city:
    • Atlanta: Grades 6-12
    • Detroit: Grades 5-12
    • Los Angeles: Grades 6-12
    • New York City: Grades 6-12
  • Home school students are eligible to participate if they report to the DOE.



Each Challenge City will recognize finalists and winners in award categories:

  • Best Middle School Game
  • Best High School Game
  • Grand Prize Winner – Best Overall Game

All student Finalists are invited to attend local Awards Ceremonies, which take place in May/June 2021.  Finalists will have the opportunity to exhibit their games as part of an ‘Awards Showcase’ and winners will be announced (and prizes awarded) during an on-stage ceremony. For the most up-to-date information on the Award Ceremonies, visit the Student Challenge Events Pg.


  • Any middle or high school student in the U.S.



The National competition will recognize 1 middle school winner and 1 high school winner in the following categories, in each of the four themes:

Best Gameplay

Recognizes games with highly engaging and polished gameplay 

  • Gameplay is well-balanced (not too hard; not too easy) and communicates clear goals and rules
  • Game runs smoothly, behaves as expected, and is bug-free
  • Players have meaningful choices in the process of achieving the goal

Best Use of Theme 

Recognizes games that present theme content in an accurate and meaningful way

  • The theme is at the forefront of the game, authentically connected to players’ actions and goals
  • Game addressed the theme in a meaningful and impactful way, promoting real change or inspiring action.
  • Information around the theme is accurate and clearly presented

Most Innovative Game 

Recognizes games that are unique, creative, inventive and stand out from the pack.

  • The aesthetics and mechanics of the game greatly enhance the player’s experience
  • The art style, animation, and/or sound design are exciting and distinctive (ie: the creator(s) put their own personal style and mark on the game.
  • The game is fresh and innovative and bears little resemblance to other games

Grand Prize Winner

Recognizes this year’s top scoring game across all four theme categories. Grand Prize Winners will be determined at the middle school and high school level.



Competition winners will receive national recognition and win prizes such as games, technology,  theme content, industry-related experiences and so much more!


  • Students under 18 must have the consent of a parent, teacher or guardian to submit a game to the competition. Contact information (email and phone number) for this individual must be included on the submission form.
  • Students under 13 will need a teacher or guardian to submit a game on their behalf.
  • All applicants may be required to provide verification of enrollment, age and parental/legal guardian permission.



  • To be considered for the competition, games must be about one of the 2021 Challenge themes.
  • Games must be submitted as digital games playable on a web browser and created in either a free or open platform (i.e. Scratch, Unity, Game Salad). You will be asked to specify the game platform and format in your application.
  • Students can submit as an individual, or in a team of up to four individuals. Each member of the team must satisfy the eligibility requirements. Each team must designate a “Team Leader” to serve as representative for all Challenge-related communications.
  • Applicants may submit one game per theme category (either as an individual or as part of a team).
  • Educators may submit a game to the competition on their students’ behalf.
  • The content of all games must be in accordance with the Student Challenge Terms of Use.
  • Each applicant must submit the application form, which requires the following information:
    • Game title
    • Game URL
    • Game Platform
    • Written description of the game
    • Written description of game’s social impact goal / why the theme is important
    • Any gameplay instructions
    • Optional: Any game design documents, art, etc
    • Contact information for a guardian (teacher, parent, etc.)




  • 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?



All game submissions must comply with the following content restrictions:

  • The application form and game submission must not contain any personally identifiable information, including but not limited to applicant’s full name, address, birth date, social security number or other federal or state identification number. Application forms and/or submissions that incorporate any of this information will be subject to disqualification.
  • The submission must not contain material that violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to privacy, publicity, copyright, trademark, patent, or intellectual property- or property-related rights.
  • The submission must not disparage any person or party affiliated with the promotion and administration of the Challenge.
  • The submission must not contain footage, images or artwork not created by applicant unless such footage, images or artwork are included as part of the applicant’s chosen game creation platform, part of Challenge website Theme page content, or applicant has obtained all rights necessary to include such footage, images or artwork as part of a submission to the Challenge.
  • The submission must not contain material that is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous.
  • The submission must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.
  • The submission must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where the submission is created.

Each applicant must retain a copy of the submission. Challenge administrators are not responsible for, and each applicant specifically releases Challenge administrators from any claims or liability relating to, any loss or damage to the submission. By entering, each applicant represents and warrants that (a) the applicant’s submission and all components thereof, including all ideas, creative elements and any other materials and information contained in the Submission are wholly original with the applicant, (b) no person or entity has collaborated with applicant in creating the submission (unless the game is made by a team, in which case team members may collaborate only with each other and not any other person or entity), provided any material or information for inclusion in the submission, or has any ownership rights in and to the submission or any component thereof, (c) applicant has the exclusive, unconditional right and authority to submit the submission to the Challenge and grant the rights set forth herein, and (d) the submission complies with these Official Rules in full. Submissions must not contain any material that Challenge administrators, in their sole discretion, deem inappropriate for public viewing and/or determine is contrary to their mission. Challenge administrators reserve the right in their sole discretion to disqualify and/or not accept any submission that Challenge administrators determine does not or is likely not to comply with these guidelines, to make such changes to any submission as are necessary to make it compliant, or to require the applicant to do so.