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NEA awards grants to four video game projects as part of Arts in Media category

The NEA has awarded grants to four video game projects

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NEA logo, National Endowment for the Arts
NEA logo, National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts has released its list of Arts in Media grant recipients and out of 329 applications, 78 grants were awarded totaling $3.55 million in funding for the not-for-profit organizations. Out of those 78 grants, four are directly for the development of video games.

Nearly a year ago, the National Endowment for the Arts – a government agency created to "support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation" – transformed its "Arts on Radio and Television" category into the broader "Arts in Media" category. Most notably, that new category included an addition: "interactive games." To be eligible for a grant, submissions had to be received by September 1st of last year and now, some seven months later, the NEA has released its list of Arts in Media grant recipients.

Out of 329 applications, 78 grants were awarded totaling $3.55 million in funding for the not-for-profit organizations, with an average grant amount of $45,513. Out of those 78 grants, four are directly for the development of video games.

  1. Let's Breakthrough, Inc. in New York City received $75,000 to "support the development of an interactive video game for social change." This online and mobile game project hopes to engage kids "in a creative exploration of democracy, diversity, and social change."
  2. The Spelman College in Atlanta – "America's oldest historically black college for women," Wikipedia says – received $100,000 to develop "HERadventure, a multi-episode, augmented reality computer game." The mobile and web-based game is targeted to college-aged women and tells the story of "a young female superhero sent to Earth to save her own planet from devastation because of climate change."
  3. The University of Southern California received $40,000 to support production costs for a video game based on the writings of Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond. This violent first-person shooter will task players with ... nah, we're just kidding. You'll "inhabit an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods."
  4. And lastly, the New York City-based Games for Change organization received $75,000 to support the "development, production, and hosting for a game for Facebook based on the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn." The book "documents the true stories of women around the world who ultimately overcome tremendous obstacles" and the game will task players with "the safety and well-being of their own village."

While those four projects explicitly seek to create video games, other projects included elements of video games in their project description. For example, the NYC-based Flea Theater "will apply video game technology to professional theater productions to create a new medium for the performing arts" and the Massachusetts-based Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is "developing an interactive dance company guessing game" that will be available on smartphones and tablets.