Press Release

Austin Team Named Winner of National Competition to Create Video Games That Teach Speaking Out Against Bias and Hate

Dozens of games developed in 1st ADL game jam hosted by Center on Technology and Society

New York, November 8, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society today announced the winners of the organization’s first game jam, a competitive hackathon held last month with the goal of developing games that can help change attitudes and reduce bias, especially among youth.

The top award went to a team from Austin, Texas, that created a game called “Ali Tale.”

ADL held its inaugural game jam Oct. 21-22 in partnership with The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment. Together, they hosted live hackathons in Austin, New York, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and other developers joined virtually. The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, Game Jolt, Games for Change, and the International Game Developers Association, and Playcrafting were partner organizations.

During the game jam, creators were asked to build games that explored how to speak out against hate and bias in society. Through the competition, participants from seven countries on four continents and the three live U.S. events submitted 33 games.

“At a time when bullying and hate are on the rise, we need to use all avenues available to us to build a world with more understanding and respect, and less bias and bigotry,” said Brittan Heller, director of ADL’s Center for Technology and Society. “This competition showed both the power in combining deep creativity and technical skills, and great enthusiasm for harnessing technology to create more positive interactions that help society.”

In the winning game, a high school student named Ali has friends who are the target of bullying, when she meets a magical cat that gives her a special power to help her understand people better. The team that developed this winning game will receive a $2,500 prize, mentorship hours with renowned gaming professional Margaret Wallace, and membership in the International Game Developers Association. The team will also be featured at ADL’s Never is Now! summit in San Francisco on November 13.

The winning team members were: William Chia, Mario Gutierrez, Aaron Hill, Courtney Huynh, Akshay Mittal, Latif Masud, Sarathi Sathasivan, and David Zhu.

ADL recognized four other teams for video games that were highly creative in finding ways to encourage players to speak out against hate and bias.

Second place went to John Drury, Richard Nina, and Mario Vespa in Whittier, Calif., for a game they titled A Day to Remember. (Just days away from graduating school, a young robot boy must find a way to stop the school's bullies from pulling the biggest prank on the school.)

They won a $1,000 prize, an eight-week course in Unity or Unreal in San Francisco or New York, and membership in the International Game Developers Association.
Honorable mentions were given for:

Cyber Protection Squad by Jacob Pelletier and Evan Witous from Indianapolis.

You've been recruited to join the Cyber Protection Squad. Your goal is to observe several different social media sites and find anybody spreading negativity and put a stop to them.

Woolf by Mario Florez in Tempe, Ariz.

In a small town of little animal kids, a new student arrives. Most little animal kids already have some form of prejudice against them, even though they don't know them. Your mission is to get to know them and get others to like them as well.

Mean Bullies, Bean Bullies by Marcel van de Steeg in Hamilton, New Zealand.

In a magical world where little colorful bean creatures wander around, sometimes those little colorful bean creatures misbehave. Try to stop the beans that are bullying and help the beans that have been targeted.

Each honorable mention team will get a one-night course from Playcrafting in San Francisco or New York, and membership in the International Game Developers Association.