Monday, October 18, 2010

Winners of Game Changers Kids Competition Announced

October 18, 2010 (Washington, DC) - Seventeen winners of the Game Changers Kids Competition were announced in Washington, DC today at the White House Science Fair, with President Barack Obama congratulating 13-year-old Jack Hanson of New Mexico, for scoring the highest marks in this competition for young game designers. Hanson created the Live or Die adventure for the popular science learning game SporeTM. He was accompanied to the White House by his mother Lori Hanson and his sister and fellow teammate, 15-year-old Haley Hanson, who will also receive an award for her LittleBigPlanetTM entry.

Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and administered by the virtual network of learning institutions HASTAC (, the Game Changers Kids Competition was part of the third annual $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competition, dedicated to Reimagining Learning. This year, MacArthur teamed with Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), the Entertainment Software Association, and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation to support new and creative user-generated levels and adventures to engage young people in learning in the two games. The intention of the Competition is to promote participatory learning, which operates under the notion that individuals, specifically young ones, learn best through sharing and involvement.

Kids learn by doing, and the Game Changers Kids Competition encourages them to learn science and technology by making it themselves in an environment that is fun and challenging, noted Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the MacArthur Foundation. In the digital age, the learning environment is turned on its head its no longer just the dynamic of the student, the teacher and the curriculum. Today, kids learn and interact with others even from around the world every time they go online, or play a video game, or engage through a social networking site. This Competition is helping us to identify and nurture the creation of learning environments that are relevant for kids today and will prepare them for a 21st century workforce.

Kids were challenged to develop new levels and adventures for the popular games SporeTM (EA) and LittleBigPlanetTM (Sony). Winners who designed adventures for SporeTM will be hosted, along with a parent or guardian, on a trip to Electronic Arts (EA), the game design company that developed SporeTM. Kids who won for creating new levels for LittleBigPlanetTM will receive a Sony PSP-3000 system.

Jack Hanson's SporeTM adventure, titled Live or Die, was chosen both for its challenging, entertaining game play and the scientific principles required to create and play it. Judges praised the way all the actions in the survivor adventure have consequences, and the way Hanson uses Artificial Intelligence and randomizing principles to make the game replayable, with new situations arising from each choice the gamer makes and a new game scenario developing each time one plays. I wanted my level to be interesting and new each time someone plays it, explained Jack. I made it so that there are different problems, but there are lots of different ways to solve those problems."