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A new grant to help young developers promote social change
A new grant to help young developers promote social change
August 21, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

August 21, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
More: Serious

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is partnering with the Black Association for Science and Engineering, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), HHF's Leaders on the Fast Track (LOFT) and others to create the ESA Loft Video Game Innovation Fellowship, geared toward supporting young developers of color to create games which speak to and seek solutions for problems in their communities.

The Fellowship will award 20 youths between the ages of 16 and 24. The application is open to young developers of all levels of experience with no restrictions on game format or software used. (However, applicants will have to submit a video in conjunction with their game.)

Grantees will be selected based on "their vision, creativity, and potential impact on their community" to create a game that "positively addresses a social or civic issues through technology they are comfortable with." ESA adds that grantees will also travel to Washington, D.C. to present their game concepts to "influencers and policymakers."

"At the core of the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship is the belief that using technology for social change is essential to not only the advancement of minority communities, but America as a nation," Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, says in conjunction with the announcement. "HHF, Black Association for Science and Engineering, BK Nation, and others are thrilled to partner with the ESA, and together encourage social innovation among youth on their terms, through technology and video games."

Prospective applicants can apply here. Submissions are due by October 1st, 2013.

Image source: LOFT Innovation website

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Antonio Dickerson
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I love this as someone who believes we need diversity of all kinds to get new experiences in this medium.

Michael Joseph
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There's a fascinating documentary called "Bastards of the Party" (it's available on netflix) that talks about the history of the notorious LA street gangs the Crips and the Bloods. The title suggests that the disorganized, dysfunctional, violent, drug and other crime driven Crips and Bloods can be thought of as the bastard children of the organized, progressive, political party known as the Black Panthers.

Games can be used to teach this history to the young and the old from all walks of life because it is a shared history. Rather than just lazily denouncing gangs, adults should be in the habit of providing young people with a broad education on the subject. This is important and relevant history that should be taught and not simply given the lazy "gangs are bad, don't do it" treatment.

Does someone dare to be bold enough to make games that teach the history of societal problems such as gangs? Imagine a game that spanned 70 years where one of the opposing factions to the player's political party was the FBI and the police. Somehow I don't think ESA is going to want to fund that one...

from wikipedia
"The title of the movie, Bastards of the Party comes from a passage in City of Quartz that reads: "As even The [Los Angeles] Times recognized, the decimation of the Panthers led directly to a recrudescence of gangs in the early 1970s."

p.s. The historical targeting of black political movements by the FBI and law enforcement agencies across the country and the subsequent cultural black-sploitation propaganda promoting and glorifying selfishness, having fun, and individual pursuits rather than seriousness, intellectualism, solidarity I think is something that has affected not just gang members but everyone because the tactics eventually were employed broadly and it's self perpetuating... and perhaps why today many folks (irrespective of ethnicity) live their lives in the similar sort of selfish, individualistic, amoral, spiritually bankrupt, fatalistic way as the street hustler. Getting paid and getting mine trumps morals, ethics, and virtue.