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Sony and Microsoft support Obama education push

Games companies to encourage science, technology, engineering and maths subjects

Sony, Microsoft and the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) have jointly announced plans for two separate video game design competitions in the US, meant to encourage student interest in technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Created in response to US President Obama's new "Educate to Innovate" campaign, the Game Changers competition is designed as part of the USD 2 million annual Digital Media and Learning Competition funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Game Changers is supported by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and will focus on creating original levels in 2008 title LittleBigPlanet, with the company donating 1,000 PlayStation 3 consoles to support the competition.

"We're thrilled by the opportunity to participate and support the Game Changer Challenge announced today, said SCEA president and CEO Jack Tretton."It casts a huge spotlight on the innovative medium that is video games and digital entertainment."

The separate STEM National Video Game Competition is organised into three age groups (4 to 8 years old, 8 to 12 and 12 to 16) and encourages children to submit game ideas that can be turned into a browser-based game.

A USD 300,000 prize is offered for the winner of the STEM National Video Game Competition, with the winner being announced at E3 2010 in June. Further details on how to enter both competitions are due to be announced "in the coming weeks".

"To create the next generation's epic titles and incredibly immersive storylines, we need America's youth to have strategic and analytic thinking skills along with complex problem solving abilities.", said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA.

"It is my hope that it will produce games that will have a lasting impact on the STEM skills our nation's students so desperately need," he added.

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David Jenkins