This year, we added a new category of video game design. Alliance for Young Artists & Writers Web Producer Dominic Matar reported from scene of this year’s first ever video game adjudication at E-Line Ventures in New York City….

Perhaps one of the most exciting additions to The Awards this year was our new category for video game design. When we launched the category last year, we wagered bets on how many submissions we would receive. In the end, the total was just over 100 games, submitted on story boards and in playable formats.

The judging session convened on Thursday, March 18, at E-Line Ventures’ headquarters in Manhattan, twenty stories high and overlooking Penn Station. Games ranged from epic, fantastical tales to eco-friendly inspired renditions. The breadth and quality of the submissions was immediately apparent, and the pace was soon set for a long day of animated discussions. Judging continued for the entire afternoon and even carried on into the following day. The judges remarked upon the level of sophistication and depth of the entries, as well as the difficulty of having to choose only a handful of winners.

Winners will be announced to the public on April 7 and will be invited to Carnegie Hall to accept Gold and Silver medals. Two top students will receive $1,000 awards each, as well as a stipend of $2,500 to attend a summer pre-college program in video game design, and a laptop from our generous sponsor, AMD Foundation.

Congratulations to the winners for standing out among fierce competition, and to all the entrants for your remarkable and inspired creative work. The 2010 judging is over, but your careers are just beginning, and we know there are many bright futures ahead!

Special thanks to E-line Ventures for their incredible assistance and to AMD for their generous support of the category.

Learn From the Best

There were two themes that came back again and again in the discussions. We wanted to share them with you, as they often became deciding points:

– “If we could only pair up this graphic artist with this programmer and that conceptual artist!”

Video Game creation, like filmmaking, is an intensely multi-disciplinary art form. You have a whole world to create and multiple storylines to develop, and you can take it as far as you want with sights, sounds, abilities, rules, twists and turns, all the way down to the presentation.

Major games, like films, are made by teams – sometimes armies – of people. Look around you to find the skills that complement yours and talents that challenge yours. Collaborating can be as challenging as it can be fun, but finding a few good collaborators can change your art and your life!

– “This game reminds me too much of… “

There’s a fine line between being creating a work that is inspired by another game, versus one that is derivative of it. Technical skill can be impressive, but remember what the judges look for, and keep in mind that originality and personal vision/voice represent 2/3 of their criteria.

Mark your calendars now for the 2011 Awards—registration opens October 1, 2010.

When acrylic painting was added to The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in the 1950s, it was described as a “groundbreaking new technology.” Over the years we’ve added new categories – think Computer Graphics in the ‘90s – and this program year, for the first time ever, we invited aspiring teen video game designers to submit work to The Awards. We’re thrilled to announce a grant in support of the video game category from our newest partner, AMD Foundation. What does this mean for students and teachers? Scholarships, outreach, workshops and more!

Our new partnership with AMD Foundation will help teens in grades 7-12 learn or improve their skills in game design and development by bringing together students, teachers and industry professionals around the country with interactive workshops. Students (and their mentors!) can learn more about the creative process, tools and technologies involved with creating a working, playable game. Plus, we’ll have more cash and scholarship awards for college and summer programs.

Increasingly, educators, businesses, researchers and developers have been investing in video games as educational tools, and leading the way are companies like AMD with initiatives such as Changing the Game. But what it’s really all about is giving people the tools to build their own virtual worlds, share their work with others and learn a little bit about science, technology, education and math along the way. We say we’re all about creativity, art and writing – and those just happen to be key ingredients in making a good game. Next year, we expect to receive 700 submissions to our video category. Bring it on, and stay tuned for the results of this year’s national winners!

You can learn more about our new partnership here.