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Australian STEM Video Game Challenge illustration showing 2 children playing video games with a crane, bulldozer, robot, ten pin bowls.
Image ©ACER

Girls take up the STEM challenge in ACER game design competition

Media release 7 minute read

Girls have brought their A-game to the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge this year, making up 73% of the winners, despite being only 33% of the total entrants. 

More than 800 primary and secondary school students from across Australia entered the annual challenge this year, designing and creating original video games linked to a theme using freely available platforms.  

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) coordinates the challenge to engage more students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities so they can develop skills to help them solve problems and become confident and competent digital citizens. 

The winning students – 11 girls and 4 boys – are from Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. They competed in 6 categories, supported by mentors and ACER resources. 

The Project Director, ACER Research Fellow, Lisa van Beeck said year 4 students were included in the popular challenge for the first time, extending learning and growth around design, teamwork, creative thinking, storytelling, coding and problem solving to a younger age group.  

But this year the challenge has been characterised by the number of girls entering and the overall engagement with the theme ‘Construction and Deconstruction’.  

‘We’ve seen a lot of new schools engage with the challenge, and a lot of entries from these schools have been made by girls, so that’s encouraging for us because our goal is to engage more students, particularly under-represented groups,’ Ms van Beeck said. 

‘The level of creativity shown by kids this year was outstanding. It demonstrates the talent of our future workforce. Many games were inspired by the climate crisis, demonstrating the destruction element as the damage that we had done to the earth and the construction element as how to repair that damage.’ 

The 2022 winners ‘Conglomerate Squad’, from regional Queensland, who had one different team member this year, were back-to-back winners. This year Isla (year 7) joined her brothers Sonny (year 9), Mathieson (year 10) and Michael (year 11). 

Mathieson has also been recognised this year with a CSIRO Future Shapers award, extending the list of challenge winners who have gone on to receive other achievement awards in STEM. 

The winning entries of the 2023 challenge will be on display in Melbourne next month at PAX Aus, Australia’s biggest digital games festival. 


Winners in the 2023 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge

Category: Year 4–6 Scratch  

Team name: St Ems Innov8tors – Alicia, Charlene, Kyleigh, Jessica
School: St Emilie’s Catholic Primary School, Canning Vale, WA
Game name: Harvest Haven
Platform: Scratch

Game description:
The Harvest Haven is a farming simulator. In this game, the player plays as Brooke who has been given a farm by her retiring Grandpa and must plant and harvest crops that earn enough money to pay her bills in time. Tapping on a chosen plant will make it appear in the growing area where it takes about 5 seconds to grow. Once it's finished, tapping it will prompt a 'collected' button that means money has been added to the player’s account.

Category: Year 4–6 Open Platform

Team name: Rampaging Chickens – Shaun, Penny, Bella, Sofia
School: St Anthony’s School, Wanneroo WA
Game name: Chicken Rampage
Platform: MakeCode Arcade

Game description:  
The game is about a chicken going to save his village from an evil ‘roBot’. At the end, a wall will have to be broken to defeat it.

Category: Year 7–9 Open Platform

Team name: Firbank Grammar – Issy  
School: Firbank Grammar, Victoria
Game name: Oracular
Platform: GDevelop

Game description:  
Oracular is a puzzle-platformer game where the player character, a pirate looking for loot, must escape a multi-room dungeon after awakening a spirit that locks the player in for their greed. To escape, the player must solve puzzles and defeat enemies in each room, using a stolen staff to destroy and create platforms and walls around the dungeon to avoid traps, bypass obstacles, and defend themselves from enemies.  

Category: Year 7–9 GODOT

Team name: Echidna - Dee
School: home schooled
Location: Melbourne
Game name: Elementary
Platform: GODOT Engine

Game Description:
Elementary is intended to be suitable for any age, with the player stacking blocks in any formation. The challenge of getting the blocks to stay stacked is what makes it interesting.

Category: Year 10-12 Open Platform

Team name: Conglomerate Squad – siblings Michael, Mathieson, Sonny, Isla  
School: home schooled
Location: Queensland
Game name: Battle of Batone
Platform: GODOT Engine

Game description:  
Battle of Batone is a 2D digital tabletop card game. Our game is about a battle fought over the fictitious land of Batone. In stage one, players gather resources and construct their fortress. Then in stage two, all the players are pitted against each other in an epic free-for-all. The objective of our game is to destroy other players' fortresses to eliminate them from the game and be the last player standing.  

Category: Year 10-12 Unity and Unreal Engine

Team name: Callie K  
School: Hobart College, Tasmania
Game name: Remora
Platform: Unreal Engine

Game description:
In Remora, players play as Lina – a young woman hired to work on a project for an influential technology company named SELAC. Lina is sent to the future to activate four energy generators that feed off resources remaining after humans have left earth, and the energy is sent back to the past, for humans who need it in their time.


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