DUBAI: The US State Department is levelling up its diplomacy with a new project that would virtually link up nearly 3,000 students from Bahrain, Israel, the UAE and the US for a creative collaboration on video games and game design.
Nonprofit group Games for Change’s (G4C) Game Exchange virtual exchange program is one of the 19 grantees under the state department’s Stevens Initiative announced for this year.
Under the two-year project, students would join peers from other countries to form ‘game studios’ and collaborate virtually to create games, facilitated by classroom teachers trained in G4C’s game design curriculum. G4C advocates and empowers game creators and social innovators to drive real-world impact through games and immersive media.
Partners in the US include middle and high schools from the Detroit Public School Community District and the New York City Department of Education. Schools will be selected from the said districts in Spring 2021.
For the Middle Eastern counterparts, it would be the Bahrain Ministry of Youth and Sports in Bahrain; twofour54 Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Beit Berl College, Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel.
‘Game studios’ would be charged with creating at least two game projects on a Sustainable Development Goal of their choice, and students could access and learn a variety of tools and platforms to develop their games and collaborate virtually.
Each year, participants submit game projects to the Game Exchange competition, with finalists and winners acknowledged at a culminating awards event.
The Stevens Initiative, named for late US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, is a public-private partnership funded by the US government which aims to foster connections between young people in the US and the MENA region via skill development.
The Stevens Initiative has awarded 83 grants since its launch in 2015, benefiting nearly 75,000 youngsters from 17 MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories and in 47 US states, Puerto Rico, one tribal community, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.