When I wrote my first post for this blog, I mentioned grants available in categories I was not qualified for, and which made me want to be a different creative mind. It is possible as a writer to inhabit these other vocations, and to imagine their boundaries by writing characters in those fields. Perhaps I will. In the meantime, I’ll just awaken my readers to the imaginations of others by pointing out what grants have been given, lately.
The National Endowment for the Arts started awarding grants last year for video games as part of their Arts in Media division, and this year awarded four institutions money to develop their projects. I haven’t played video games since I was a teenager, and the violent ones are always making the news. Of course there must be good ones out there.
If you can’t make it to the wilds of Massachusetts, step inside the new media version. $40,000 was given to the University of Southern California to support the production costs for a three-dimensional game based on Henry David Thoreau’s writings at Walden. Perhaps there will be a geography lesson, and some walks where you, too, can reflect on society. $100,000 was awarded to Spelman College in Atlanta to develop HERadventure, a mobile and web-based, multi-episode, augmented reality computer game for college-aged women involving a young, female superhero sent to earth to save her own planet from the devastation of climate change. The other grants show the inventive ways youth can interact positively with the issues of society in a medium they prefer. Let’s Breakthrough, Inc., in New York City, got $75,000 to develop an interactive online and mobile video game to engage kids in a creative exploration of democracy, diversity, and social change. Games For Change in New York City also received $75,000 to support the development, production, and hosting of a Facebook game based on the book, Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which documents the true stories of women around the world who ultimately overcome tremendous obstacles. Players of the game will have to protect the safety and well-being of their own village.
Creative Capital Foundation has also given grants for Electronic Media, and when I participated in their professional development program several years ago as a marketing consultant, there was a recipient who had won a grant for his video game. I do not recall his name, unfortunately, but I recall his energy and his describing the difficulty he had, usually, in speaking with people who considered video games to be products to be pitched, when his was more like an environment to be visited.
All this makes me want to be more inventive, and if that doesn’t happen, at least to go over and play in the new environments created by these inventive people.