N Square Challenge: $10,000 game design competition around nuclear weapons

[ Update: The call for submissions has ended. Thanks for everyone who entered! ]

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Help Drive the Conversation About The Risk of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear proliferation remains one of the most vexing and complex issues of our time. Though the Cold War ended long ago, today’s nuclear security situation is more volatile than ever.

But with such a huge challenge comes an even bigger opportunity for innovation, and who better to tackle this issue than the gaming community, known for their creativity and collaborative problem solving. A new design competition is calling on innovators to save the world, in real life, by inspiring creative solutions and novel approaches that foster greater understanding of nuclear proliferation and its related safety and security challenges.

Games for Change is looking for ideas for games that address the risk of nuclear weapons.

The N Square Challenge is a $10,000 game design competition, sponsored by N Square, a two-year pilot working to inspire nuclear safety solutions.

The challenge invites anyone, anywhere, to conceptualize a game that will engage and educate players about the dynamics of nuclear weapons risk. No prior game design experience or subject matter expertise is required. You supply the idea, and we’ll design the game.

The winning design idea will receive a $10,000 cash prize!

Key Dates

  • Oct. 22: Contest announced
  • Nov. 22: Submissions due
  • Week of Dec. 14: Winner selected and notified

The winning game idea will receive $10,000 and will be developed into a playable game and featured as part of a traveling pop-up innovation lab experience. Development will be done by a third-party game developer if your team is not able. N Square will cover all costs for development and promotion of the full game.

Click here for a complete background, competition guidelines, and criteria.


60 Responses to N Square Challenge: $10,000 game design competition around nuclear weapons

  1. Please keep in mind for contestant information and the fandom of the Fallout* series by bethesda, that everyone should be aware and stray from title words being ‘fallout’ because there have been arrangements that issued legal action by zenimax media, such as Jordan Maron’s "Fortress Fallout". i don’t know if they’d sway for this type of company and its organizational goals but best to be safe than sorry.
    you can see an article detailing it below.

    sincerely, Jack Faulk – game enthusiast


  2. Help me out here… who owns the developed title? Is there a revenue share agreement to recoup the costs of development?

    • Games for Change says:

      Thanks for writing. The designer would own rights to the game, but per the challenge guidelines, they will also agree to grant N Square a non-exclusive license to use and promote it. Please let us know if you have any other questions?

  3. Andrea says:

    Hi, I just submitted a concept. I was amazed to receive the following feedback: "Your design submission has been received.
    Finalists will be notified on March 21, 2014."

    • Games for Change says:

      Uh oh, that’s not right! Sorry about that. Finalists will be notified November 20, 2015 (*not* March 21). Apologies for the confusion.

  4. vishnu sai says:

    hello! :)introducing myself i am Indian army enthusiast so this will help me if i win in this contest

  5. Dan L says:

    > creative solutions and novel approaches that foster greater understanding of nuclear proliferation and its related safety and security challenges.

    This seems like a fairly broad description. Would you say the goal is to educate and raise awareness of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons?

    Or is it more to develop game theory approaches to multilateral disarmament (to "solve" the problem of disarmament)?

    • Games for Change says:

      Yes, the goal is to educate and raise awareness of the risks of nuclear weapons. While game theory to multilateral disarmament could be a component of the game, it is not the focus of the challenge. Does that help? Let us know if you need anything else and good luck with your submission!

  6. Sherry says:

    Hi there, we’re interested in submitting an idea, but we’re a little confused about the platform we should be designing for. Does our concept have to be for a mobile game? Thank you!

    • Games for Change says:

      No, it does not have to be for a mobile game. (Also, it must be a digital game!) Let us know if you have any other questions, and good luck!

  7. Andrew says:

    This is really an awesome idea! If you could, would you elaborate a bit on the partnership the submitter would have with the third-party game developer (i.e., would the submitter still have any creative control / input once the game was sent off to be made based on the design)? Thanks!

    • Games for Change says:

      The third-party developer’s role is to build the game, if the applicant is not able (for example, lack of experience or resources). The game idea would stay close to what was proposed, and game development would be a collaboration between the developer and person(s) who submitted the idea. The developer would be there to execute, whereas the applicants are intended to be the creative source.

      If a game studio submits an idea, then they will likely handle development if they are interested and able to.

  8. Gabriel says:

    Is it permissible for a single team to submit two different ideas?

  9. Ray says:

    how about submitting two game ideas, is that allowed ?

  10. I can’t really speak for N Square or Games for Change, but since these groups along with their partners are trying to find ideas and solutions to real problems we face today that are very important to our survival, I would hazard to guess that they will accept as many submissions as possible, I know I would :)

  11. Shalia says:

    Will the developed game be distributed for free or for profit and if for profit will the chosen designer be given a share of such profits? Thank you.

    • Games for Change says:

      N Square will distribute the game across its networks for free. Any other arrangements would be discussed on a case-by-case basis between N Square and the winning team. Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions?

  12. Peggy Weil says:

    I created a storyboard/design doc with many illustrations. The form only allows 10KB for uploaded files, my pdf is 4.9MB. Is there any way to submit my illustrations? 10KB is not adequate.
    Thank you

  13. Peggy Weil says:

    To add to my question above: I was able to reduce my file to 967KB which seems reasonable, but it still won’t upload; the limit is 10.0 KB
    Can you test and confirm?
    It doesn’t seem likely that the limit should be 10.0 KB for a serious proposal. Please let me (us) know how to submit visual material.
    Thank you

  14. peggy says:

    And finally, these questions are about uploading a file – if it is not possible to increase the limit I realize we can create a web page with the same content.

    • Games for Change says:

      Hi Peggy, very sorry about the file size limit! We had a glitch in the form settings (the limit should have been 10MB from the start), which is now fixed. Please let us know if you’re able to submit your game idea, or if you have any other questions?

  15. peggy says:

    Yes, it works now. Thank you for correcting it.

  16. Berkley says:

    I see the submission deadline on the application form has been extended but have not seen this verified anywhere else. Can you confirm that the new deadline is Nov. 22?

    • Games for Change says:

      Yes, the submission deadline is November 22. We’ve just updated our post to reflect this and are updating other materials, too. We look forward to your game idea! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  17. Craig says:

    You said feedback will be given November 20th yet the submission date is 22nd?

    • Games for Change says:

      Hi Craig, the submission deadline is November 22, and the winner will be notified on December 10 (Nov. 20 was the previous date before the deadline was moved back). Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  18. Pia and Valentina says:

    Our concept entry submitted 12 Nov 2015 :)

  19. Karl says:

    Replying to Comment 6 above, Games for Changesays:
    "No, it does not have to be for a mobile game. (Also, it must be a digital game!) Let us know if you have any other questions, and good luck!"

    It seems to say otherwise in the Guidelines though,
    "Game Development – A selected developer will be given a budget and 2 to 4 months to develop a pilot and then a fully playable mobile game. Following completion of development, game will be distributed, implemented, and promoted by N Square, with the help of the selected developer."

    Is the mobile platform optional or mandatory? Thank you

    • Games for Change says:

      Mobile game submissions are preferred and encouraged, but if you have an amazing idea that is not mobile, please submit it anyway! If a great idea comes through, N Square will still be excited about it.

  20. Alhvi says:

    Hi, I was filling the form. I thought the additional files or URLs to support the game idea were optional. Why is the question "Please share visuals or links to support your design. These may be original or sample art to demonstrate your ideas and player interactions *" labeled as required?

    • Games for Change says:

      H Alhvi, sorry for the confusion this caused! We’ve updated our form so this question is optional (as it should be). Please let us know if you have any other questions and good luck!

  21. Jean says:

    Hello there! Could you confirm the precise deadline time for submitting entries? I can’t seem to find anything more than November 22nd, which is pretty vague, depending on timezones. Thanks!

  22. Michele says:

    I just submitted a game concept under the extended deadline (tomorrow, 22 November, 2015). Will entrants/winners be notified via email (I am not sure my mobile phone can receive calls from out of the country where we live) of updates and winner-status?
    thank you

  23. Dan L says:

    Is there any opportunity for iteration on the game idea submission before the winner is announced? Maybe get some feedback?


  24. Bruce says:

    Any news on this? Curious what the selected game was. I see today is the decision day, will there be a public announcement?

    • Games for Change says:

      There will be a public announcement, but it won’t be today, since our jury is still deliberating. We’ll likely be able to notify the winner next week and make an announcement after we get in touch with them.

  25. Mike Stanton says:

    oh man when will the winner be announced!?

  26. Jack says:


    has the winner been announced yet?

    • Games for Change says:

      Not yet! Our jury is still deliberating and will likely have an announcement early next week. Sorry for the delay!

  27. The suspense is palpable on this deliberation. I’m sure you are all feeling the pressure in the decision making process as well. I trust that the game concept, regardless of the winner will drive such amazing results in a much needed field.

    Good Luck to all.

  28. Vallar says:


    I was wondering have you notified the winner yet or not? I understand that the announcement will be a week after today. I just want to know whether a winner was picked or not.


  29. Jessica Fiorini says:

    Even while vacationing in Iceland I’m checking this site for any announcements! Any updates?

  30. Javair Ratliff says:

    Hey, we realized we signed up with an inactive email, any way to get our submission email changed?

  31. James Cherry says:

    The week of Dec 14 is also over and there is still no announcement of winner. When the results will be out? At least give us some concrete date. :)

    • Games for Change says:

      Hi James, we’ve just announced the winner here: http://www.gamesforchange.org/2015/12/winner-of-10000-prize-announced-inn-square-game-design-challenge/.

  32. Thanks for hosting this challenge I was glad to be a part of it.
    To all of the other participants, I doubt that I will find so many people interested in these issues in one location, so if anyone is interested I would like to continue working on this theme with others. The project that I have been working on is located at this address http://www.criticalcollapse.org/ it is really just an outline but I would be honoured to have other minds to work with.


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