Google’s Change the Game winner for 2018 is a 17-year-old girl

  • The Change the Game winner for 2018 is a 17-year-old girl named Christine, from Vancouver, WA.
  • Her game, Mazu, is a side-scrolling platform puzzle game where the titular hero must navigate a dangerous forest.
  • Four other young girls received runner-up prizes for their own game designs.

In December of last year, Google announced a new initiative focused on girls and gaming called Change the Game. The purpose of the initiative is to draw attention to the fact that women and young girls are also gamers, and that there should be games designed with them in mind.

The Change the Game Design Challenge called on young girls across the United States to design a game that they’d like to play. Today, on stage in Los Angeles, Google announced the Grand Prize winner: a 17-year-old girl named Christine from Vancouver, WA. She won for her design of a side-scrolling platform puzzle game called Mazu.

Mazu’s titular character is a young shapeshifting girl who uses her wits to make her way on a journey through a danger-filled forest, inhabited by predators, tough terrain, and money-hungry hunters. Check out Christine’s design concept art below:

The Grand Prize is a $10,000 college scholarship and a $15,000 technology contribution to Christine’s school. She and the other four finalists also get an exclusive experience at E3 where they can showcase their game design, a tour of the Google Los Angeles office, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.

The other four finalists are eighth-grader Dakota from Encino, CA; ninth-grader Lily from Poplar, WI; 12th-grader Erin from Freehold, NJ; and 11th-grader Lauren from Birmingham, AL.

According to a Google study, women and girls make up 50 percent of mobile gamers, yet women only account for about 23 percent of the game industry. Boys in their senior year of high school are three times as likely as girls of similar age to be interested in game-making as a career.

Most girls who are interested in creating video games think that there is no place for them as they don’t know how to code. However, Google’s Change the Game initiative hopes to spread the word that not only is coding something girls can do, but that video game design involves other non-coding aspects, such as art, graphic design, and music.

NEXT: Women showcased on Google Play for International Women’s Day

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