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Game On: Challenge Grants Want Gamers To Go Outside

by Rainier on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 8:17 a.m. PST

Outdoor Nation has teamed up with the Entertainment Software Association launching Game On: Challenge Grants, a new program connecting young people to the outdoors through entertainment technology.

This pilot program will invest in youth-inspired projects that leverage entertainment gaming technologies to get a new generation outdoors, active and engaged in conservation challenges.

“For many years, technology was considered a contributor to Americans disconnect to the natural world – until recently. Today, technology is seen as a potential pathway to increasing or enhancing outdoor experiences,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that started the Outdoor Nation movement. “We are excited to partner with ESA and conservation communities to support innovative youth-led projects and initiatives that get young people outside and active.”

Grants of $5,000 will be awarded to the top four individuals or teams that either create a new app or mobile game or promote an existing game to inspire youth to get outdoors. Proposals must be submitted by individuals ages 18 to 28 or teams (could include public, private or nonprofit organizations) with a project leader who is in that age range. Apply here and submit your proposal by March 27, 2013. Winning projects will be selected by an experienced, high profile advisory council, full list below.

Outdoor Nation makes it easy and provides resources so that anyone to apply, regardless of programming experience.  For example, the Game On grant materials provide information on FreshAiR, a platform that makes creating and experiencing outdoor games and challenges a snap, with zero programming required.  Likewise, App Inventor is a free to use program that uses drag-and-drop blocks to develop code – no programming experience required.

“Video games today are entertaining, inspiring, and educating millions of Americans,” said Erik Huey, senior vice president for government affairs at ESA, the U.S. trade association representing computer and video game publishers. “We are proud that new communities are seeking to harness our industry’s innovation and creativity to motivate individuals for positive change. We look forward to working with the Outdoor Nation and outdoor enthusiasts to enhance America’s youth to enhance their exploration of nature using video game technology.

Project winners will have the opportunity to attend E3, the world’s leading computer and video game event, which will be held in Los Angeles in June 2013. All winning apps will be made available for download.

Advisory council members include: Kevin Kilcullen, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Erik Huey, Entertainment Software Association; Constance Steinkuehler, University of Wisconsin and former White House Advisor; Nick Fortugno, Playmatics; Greg Trefry, Gigantic Mechanic; Tim Loew, MassDiGI; Ben Sawyer, Games for Health; Dave Bisceglia, The Tap Lab; Scot Osterweil, MIT;; Larry Selzer, The Conservation Fund and Christine Fanning, Outdoor Foundation.

Outdoor Nation is committed to increasing and expanding youth participation in outdoor recreation thorough entertainment, education, engagement and action in order to cultivate a healthier, more active generation. During the past year, Outdoor Nation has awarded more than $250,000 to youth for projects that reconnect young people with nature. For more information about Outdoor Nation grants, visit

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