A team of game developers from Austin won first place in the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society’s first ever game jam, a competitive hackathon in which participants create video games. The theme of the game jam, “Being an Ally,” focused on developing video games that explore speaking out against hate and bias in society. The hackathon included teams of game developers from all across the U.S. and from several other countries, and a total of 33 games were submitted.

The team included two UTCS students, William Chia and Courtney Huynh. The in-person portion of the game jam took place over 24 hours on October 21-22 at the Capital Factory, and participants could work on their game until October 27.

Chia and Huynh’s team created a game called “Ali Tale,” in which high school student Ali’s friends are being bullied. In the game, Ali meets a magical cat that gives her the power to better understand other people.

“At a time when bullying and hate are on the rise, we need to use all avenues available to us to build a world with more understanding and respect, and less bias and bigotry,” said Brittan Heller, director of the Center for Technology and Society, in a press release from the Anti-Defamation League. “This competition showed both the power in combining deep creativity and technical skills, and great enthusiasm for harnessing technology to create more positive interactions that help society.”

The winning team will receive a $2,500 prize; mentorship hours with Margaret Wallace, CEO of game development studio Playmatics; and membership in the International Game Developers Association. In addition, their game was featured on November 13 at the Anti-Defamation League’s Never is Now! summit, a conference in San Francisco about combatting hate.

The Anti-Defamation League partnered with the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, Game Jolt, Games for Change, the International Game Developers Association and Playcrafting for the game jam, and the UT GAMMA program sponsored the Austin contest.

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