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The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge

A free national video game development
competition for students in years 3 to 12.

Jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are growing twice as fast as non-STEM occupations.

Research shows we need to reach students by age 15 to influence their long term participation in STEM.

The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge seeks to:

ENGAGE students in STEM subjects

ENABLE students to develop real-world skills

EMPOWER more students to choose STEM careers.

Teams of 1-4 students design and develop a video game based on a given theme

Team mentors support students with curriculum-aligned resources

Entries are judged by teachers and industry experts

Winning entries are showcased at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) held in Melbourne

2024 theme

STARS

This year we want you to build a game that incorporates one or more aspects of ‘stars’.

Download the 2024 theme sheet

What are stars?

Space: Stars are big, bright blobs in the sky, fusing hydrogen and generating incredible amounts of energy.

Mathematics: Stars are geometric shapes that usually have 5 or 6 points…but what are the other options?

Or can you think of another way you can use the idea of a star in your game?

What you need to know

Registration opens
6 October 2023

Submission window
28 June-23 July 2024

Judging Round 1 (Qualifying)
23-29 July 2024

Qualifying resubmission period
1-8 August, 2024

Judging Round 2 (Semi-finals)
9-19 August, 2024

Judging Round 3 (Finals)
23 August–2 September, 2024

Winners announced
6 September 2024

Anyone over the age of 18 with a Working With Children Check can be a team mentor. Teachers and parents make ideal mentors and are well placed to facilitate the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge. A mentor can be shared by more than one team, meaning that a single teacher can exist as the mentor for multiple teams of students (i.e. a class).

The role of the Team Mentor is:

  • To register their team(s) and the students within each team.
  • To provide support and advice, encourage learning, and mediate any issues that might arise as their team’s progress through the game design process.
  • To take responsibility for submitting the finished game and completed GDD (Game Design Document)
  • Provide a reliable point of contact for communications between the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge and the participating students.

Team Mentors do not need to be experienced game designers or professionals in the IT area. The mentoring for most students will be in supporting their creative process, helping them to scale a design back to something they can manage in their available time. Reminding them that simple ideas done well are generally the way to go.

Submitted games MUST run in a Microsoft Windows operating system, or in an identified Internet browser.

  • Games can be developed on any operating system. However, the final version of the submitted game must run on a Microsoft Windows operating system, or internet browser.

Submitted games MUST be built in free or free-for education platforms.

  • To ensure an equitable opportunity for all participants we insist upon the use of free or free-for-education platforms and prohibit the use of paid assets.

Submitted games MUST utilise a keyboard and/or mouse-based control system.

Submitted games MUST function, first and foremost, as single-player games.

  • To facilitate judging, we require that all games submitted in the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge are designed primarily for play by a single player. We do not discourage participants from submitting multiplayer games, however, we ask that these considerations be treated as secondary to the single player experience.

Submitted games MUST refrain from the use of store-bought or purchased assets.

  • The development of characters, construction of environments and the realisation of artwork is an important component of the game development process, and part of the challenge that exists in creating an original game. At a minimum, we expect that the main characters and sounds, important tools and obstacles, as well as primary backgrounds are the student’s original work.

Please refer to our Official Rules for more details.

The classification guidelines can be found here.

To register your team please create a mentor account through our Mentor Portal in the menu bar at the top of this page.

Then register your team(s) any time between 6 October 2023 and 22 July 2024. Submissions close 11:59pm (AEST) Monday 22 July 2024.

Parent permission form

Game Designer

Game Designers help to determine the rules and the structure of the game making sure that players can easily understand how to play the game. They need to think about the gameplay, the goals of the game, the balance of challenges and rewards, feedback to the player, levels and increasing difficulties. Game Designers may need to be good communicators, helping to guide other members of the team.

Artist/Visual Designer

Artists and Visual Designers are responsible for the look and graphic design of the game, ensuring it is consistent throughout the game. Artists and Visual Designers are generally creative with an ability to visually represent concepts or ideas, and take responsibility for the overall graphic style and appeal of a game.

Programmer

Programmers make the game work! They write the code, scripts and mechanisms that make the game functional and playable. Programmers are responsible for functionality and many of the technical aspects of game development.

Storyteller

Storytellers contribute to the narrative that underpins the game. They are responsible for providing the game with environments, characters, motivation and context. Storytellers are driven by player engagement - they think about what is happening in the game, how the story will progress through the game, and how the progression will help to encourage/challenge the player to continue playing.

Sound & Music Effects

Sound and music can heighten the game play and bring the world of the game to life. Music can bring an emotional element to the game, while sound can add a dynamic atmosphere. Original sound and music can make a good game great!

Tester

The Tester is responsible for testing the game and ensuring that there are no glitches or technical problems. Tester’s play a valuable role in ensuring that games are functional, engaging and enjoyable. They provide insights on how the game feels to play, and the player experience.

(NB: It is recommended that you test your game with a person not connected to the build and design of the game – someone fresh will pick up problems that those who understand the game will not!)

Students may enter one of six categories

  • Year 3-6 Scratch
  • Year 3-6 Open Platform
  • Year 7-9 GODOT
  • Year 7-9 Open Platform
  • Year 10-12 Unreal Engine
  • Year 10-12 Open Platform

Open platform

There are many fantastic game platforms available for teaching and learning. We do not wish to limit participants to using just a few. You may submit an entry made in any free or free-for-education platform that suits your context, provided it satisfies the criteria outlined in the rules for the challenge.

Scratch

Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Designed for beginners, Scratch utilises a ‘drag-and drop’ environment, and a simplified programming language to enable younger students program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation.
Scratch

GODOT

GODOT is a 2D and 3D cross-platform compatible game engine released as open source software under a license from MIT. GODOT aims to offer a fully integrated game development environment. Allowing young developers to create a game, needing no other tools beyond those used for content creation (art assets, music etc.). The website has great supporting information and tutorials for those new to GODOT and game development.

GODOT Engine

Unreal Engine

Commonly used in professional game production, Unreal Engine uses the C++ language alongside a visual development environment. Designed primarily for the production of 3D games, Unreal Engine has a broad user base and offers a comprehensive suite of documentation, as well as a range of educational materials including complete projects, template games and tutorials.

Unreal Engine

The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge judging panel is comprised of volunteers from the education, game development and technology sectors.

Each year games are judged in a three-round process. We have GDD templates and Scoring Rubrics specifically designed for each age group. Check out the age group tabs for more information.

Round 1: Qualifying (23-29 July, 2024)

This is a quality assurance round where judges check that games play and that there is student content in the GDD. This is a great round to be a part of if you are new to the challenge or do not have a teaching or tech background.

QUALIFYING: Re-submission (1-8 August, 2024)

If we find an issue with your team’s entry during qualifying, we will notify the team’s mentor. You will have one opportunity to resubmit during the re-submission period. Any games that do not work after re-submission will not move on to the semi-finals.

Round 2: Semi-Finals (9-19 August, 2024)

In this round, judges receive a random selection of entries and use the challenge scoring rubrics to determine a score and provide written feedback to teams. Judges in this round require a sound knowledge of at least one of the category platforms. Ideally, judges will have experience using scoring rubrics and providing student feedback. If you are a digital technology teacher, this is your round!

Round 3: Finals (23 August-2 September, 2024)

This round is for experienced tech teachers and industry experts. Judges in this round receive a random selection of finalist games and use the challenge scoring rubrics to determine a score and provide written feedback to teams. Judging in this round requires in-depth knowledge of coding languages and extensive experience with gaming platforms. Teams that generate the highest score in this round are declared the winner.

You can register as a judge through the Judge Portal in the menu bar at the top of this page.

Resources for mentors and judges

Creating a video game for the STEM VGC draws on many parts of the curriculum and is a great cross-curricula project

Digital Technology: Creating a video game is obviously a great way to teach the digital technology curriculum and to help make the Challenge useful for teaching, learning and reporting we have aligned it to the Australian Curriculum V9.0. You can find the Digital Technology curriculum descriptors mapped to the components of the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge by clicking the Curriculum links button below.

English: The Game Design Document (GDD) is a key part of the team’s entry. It is essentially a report describing the team’s game development process. This is a great component to integrate into reading and writing units on non-fiction texts. In addition, creating a video game requires a significant amount of written content. It can take the form of instructions for how to play the game, character dialogue, level completion information and plot development as a player progresses through a game. The amount and type of text needed will depend on the type of game created. Whether a first-person shooter or a role-playing game, participants will require text-based instructions and developers must write them. You can find a template to guide your team below.

Mathematics: Coding and mathematics have a shared logical structure making coding an engaging way to teach and learn mathematics. Coding can be used to model and investigate mathematical relationships and help to build fluency. It’s algorithmic thinking in a real-world context. Video games are built using code. This can be in the form of blocks in Scratch, nodes in Godot or written code such as JavaScript and C++ in Unity3D and Unreal Engine. The language through which software, hardware, and the product which ultimately arrives on-screen is a mathematical one. Making game design an authentic numeracy activity.

2024 Theme sheet

Year 3-6 Game Design Document template

Year 3-6 Scoring Rubric

Curriculum links

Creating a video game for the STEM VGC draws on many parts of the curriculum and is a great cross-curricula project

Digital Technology: Creating a video game is obviously a great way to teach the digital technology curriculum and to help make Challenge to be useful for teaching, learning and reporting we have aligned it to the Australian Curriculum V9.0. You can find the Digital Technology curriculum descriptors mapped to the components of the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge by clicking the Curriculum links button below.

English: The Game Design Document is a key part of the team’s entry. It is essentially a report describing the team’s game development process. This is a great component to integrate into reading and writing units on non-fiction texts. In addition, creating a video game requires a significant amount of written content. It can take the form of instructions for how to play the game, character dialogue, level completion information and plot development as a player progresses through a game. The amount and type of text needed will depend on the type of game created. Whether a first-person shooter or a role-playing game, participants will require text-based instructions and developers must write them. You can find a template to guide your team below.

Mathematics: Coding and mathematics have a shared logical structure making coding an engaging way to teach and learn mathematics. Coding can be used to model and investigate mathematical relationships and help to build fluency. It’s algorithmic thinking in a real-world context. Video games are built using code. This can be in the form of blocks in Scratch, nodes in Godot or written code such as JavaScript and C++ in Unity3D and Unreal Engine. The language through which software, hardware, and the product which ultimately arrives on-screen is a mathematical one. Making game design an authentic numeracy activity.

2024 Theme sheet

Year 7-9 Game Design Document template

Year 7-9 Scoring Rubric

Curriculum links

Creating a video game for the STEM VGC draws on many parts of the curriculum and is a great cross-curricula project.

Digital Technology: Creating a video game is obviously a great way to teach the digital technology curriculum and to help make the Challenge useful for teaching, learning and reporting we have aligned it to the Australian Curriculum V9.0. You can find the Digital Technology curriculum descriptors mapped to the components of the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge by clicking the Curriculum links button below.

Other subjects: The Challenge can be authentically implemented in senior high school subjects through core year 11 and 12 subjects or Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses.

The list of all courses that would be appropriate to utilise the STEM VGC as a tool for teaching and learning throughout Australia is extensive. Common courses across states include: Applied Computing, Computer Science, Creative and Digital Media, Digital Technologies, Information Technology, Media Production and Analysis, Software Design and Development, Visual Arts, Media Arts and Visual Communication and Design.

Other less obvious subjects and courses like Creative Writing, Music, History, all sciences and Psychology can also utilise video game development as part of a rich assessment task. This can be even broader depending on the Challenge theme.

Some courses make explicit reference to video games in their course guides while others include content and skills that are appropriate (and in some cases, necessary) for the development of video games.

Across many of these courses it would be possible, and appropriate, for teachers to encourage students to use video games, developed for the purposes of course work and assessment tasks, as entries to the Australian STEM Video Game challenge.

2024 Theme sheet

Year 10-12 Game Design Document template

Year 10-12 Scoring Rubric

Curriculum links

Prizes for winners

A custom hoodie featuring artwork from your game

3-day pass to PAX Aus in Melbourne where the winning games will be on display.

Opportunities to engage online and in person at STEM and gaming events.

Winner’s showcase at PAX Aus 2024

Each year, the winning games are featured in an interactive display at PAX Aus

PAX Aus is one of the southern hemisphere’s largest games and interactive entertainment exhibitions. Taking place in Melbourne in early October, the event provides a fantastic opportunity for our winners to showcase their games to the public.

Finalists and winners may also be invited to attend conferences in their home state to showcase their games and promote the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge.

2023 Winners

Take a look at winning entries to inspire your team and learn about the Challenge.

cartoon style wooden sign from the game Harvest Haven

Harvest Haven (Year 3 - 6 Scratch)

Team: St Ems Innov8tors

Developed with: Scratch

GDD Document

Gameplay
pixel art view of a forest from the game Chicken Rampage

Chicken Rampage(Year 3 - 6 Open Platform)

Team: Rampaging Chicken

Developed with: MakeCode Arcade

GDD Document

Gameplay
Pixel art ocean view from the game Oracular

Oracular(Year 7 - 9 Open Platform)

Team: Firbank Grammar

Developed with: GDevelop

GDD Document

Gameplay
geometric shapes from the game Elementary

Elementary(Year 7 - 9 GODOT)

Team: Echidna

Developed with: GODOT Engine

GDD Document

Gameplay
top-down view of a map from the game Battle of Batone

Battle of Batone(Year 10 - 12 Open Platform)

Team: Conglomerate Squad

Developed with: GODOT Engine

GDD Document

Gameplay
artwork of the main characters from the game Remora

Remora (Year 10 - 12 Unity and Unreal Engine)

Team: Callie K

Developed with: Unreal Engine

GDD Document

Gameplay

Special mention

Shout out to these finalist teams that showed exceptional creativity and game development skills!

retro style artwork from the game Elemental Sandbox

Elemental Sandbox (Year 3 - 6 Scratch)

Team: Orion

Developed with: Scratch

GDD Document

Gameplay
futuristic tank shooting lasers, from the game Technologene

Technologene (Year 10 - 12 GODOT)

Team: GearShock

Developed with: GODOT Engine

GDD Document

Gameplay

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