The CHI PLAY Student Game Design Competition will provide a unique opportunity for students to showcase their interactive play systems and designs. Students will need to submit a video, including closed captions, of their game as well as proof of student status (full-time or part-time, all levels up to Ph.D.). The jury will nominate the best submissions for an interactive presentation at the conference, where a panel of experts chooses the winners. Nominated teams have to send at least one student member who will attend the conference and present the submission during the Student Game Design Competition Presenters are expected to be present at the award ceremony. Supervisors and advisors are NOT accepted to present the game nor to accept the award. Registration and full attendance of at least one student from the team at the CHI PLAY 2021 conference are mandatory.

Important dates

(all times are 23:59 Anywhere on Earth or AoE):

July 16, 2021 Student Game Design Competition submission deadline
August 20, 2021 Decisions sent to authors
September 10, 2021 Final camera-ready papers due



The game has to be new. Games from previous contests may not be submitted to the Student Game Design Competition.

Teamwork is allowed. The maximum development time of the game should not be higher than 72 person-months. Students might be asked to present a timesheet of the development. Multidisciplinary and multinational teams are particularly welcome. There is no limit to the number of teams that may compete at any given university.

The competition is open to a variety of student profiles. All students at various stages of their university careers, full-time or part-time, from undergraduate to postgraduate level (including master’s and doctoral students) can submit their work to the CHI PLAY Student Game Design Competition. Recent graduates who can provide proof of student status within the past year are also eligible.

The game must be functional. This implies that reviewers, jury members, and conference attendees, are able to play the game or at least a part of the game in order to have a meaningful play experience. However, a fully finished game is not required; a playable demo or demo level is sufficient. Due to the online format of the conference, games that need additional equipment (e.g, virtual reality headsets, self-made artifacts and controllers) may not be available to be played by reviewers, jury members and conference attendees. Still, those kinds of games might need to be played by the designers in the live stream to be considered for the final evaluation. 

Paper prototypes or games without a digital component are not accepted.

There is flexibility in terms of game specs. The game must contain a meaningful digital component to be eligible. Beyond that, students are allowed to rely on their preferred game engines (Unreal, XNA, Unity 3D, …), dev kits, and interaction technologies. The games can run on any platform (PC, Mac, console, tablet, PDA, etc.). Games that make use of custom hardware or cannot otherwise be shared easily online are welcome. If you have any concerns about submission constraints please reach out to the SGDC chairs ().


Accessibility guidelines need to be followed both for the video and the paper submission. Please ensure that you read and applied the directions given in this Accessibility page to your submission. For your video, check the Accessibility section of the Video requirements page

Please use inclusive language throughout your papers. Some commonly-used charged terminology and alternative suggestions can be found at: Please avoid using gendered language, ableist language, and racialized terminology.

You are asked to provide alt-text descriptions for all figures in your submission. Writing good descriptive text is important, so please look at for guidance and examples. More information for writing accessible papers can be found at the CHI 2021 guidelines:  

Permission needs to be ensured. Before submitting a game, students must have obtained the permission of all persons or entities having any rights in the game. Please ensure that submissions do not contain proprietary or confidential material.

Submission Requirements

The maximum size of all five parts of the submission combined is 110 MB. If your game submission is large and requires more space, instead of submitting the game itself, submit a text document containing a URL that can be used to download the game, e.g., using a file sharing service such as Dropbox or OneDrive. Avoid using file-sharing services with expiring links as it may prevent judges from accessing your game. Please keep download time in mind and realize that if a game cannot properly be downloaded, it will be excluded from the review process.

The submission should contain information about the game’s concept, interactive innovations, target audience, technological and gameplay innovations. For games that are part of a research project, the submission should also include research questions methodology, implementation, and results as well as explain what background research informed their design decisions. In their submissions, we explicitly want competitors to elaborate on at least one of the following points:

1 – How does it push the boundaries of the technology they used?

2 – How does it bring new horizons to game design?

3 – How does it engage with societal problems they want to address?

CHI PLAY 2021 will use the new ACM Primary Article Templates; detailed instructions on formatting can be found at Authors should submit manuscripts for review in a single column format, which is available for Word and LaTeX (use the “manuscript” call to create a single-column format, rather than “acmsmall”). If you are using the ACM LaTeX Overleaf template, please select the “ACM Journals – New Primary Article Template”, not the “ACM Conference Proceedings ‘Master’ Template”.

Please follow the general video submission and accessibility guidelines of the conference. The gameplay video should be 2-3 minutes long, with a title slide including the title, name, and affiliation of authors and unambiguously illustrate gameplay and demonstrate the player experience. The gameplay video is particularly important for submissions that make use of custom hardware or peripherals that may not be available to judges. Please refer to the video guidelines for more details about the accepted video formats. The gameplay video will be used for review purposes and for inclusion in the ACM Digital Library.

The executable game is optional, yet strongly recommended. A document with technical requirements and installation description is mandatory when submitting an executable game. If you have built the game in a game engine that allows web player export, please provide the game as the web player version. If submitting an executable is not possible (e.g., because of dedicated hardware/software infrastructure or specialized gameplay settings), then this part can be omitted, however, obviously, the video play footage will have to demonstrate the gameplay.

Technical requirements and installation documents (when submitting an executable game) should clarify any special requirements around playing the game for judging and any considerations that may be needed for the presentation of the game during the conference. Additionally, this document can briefly describe any special hardware/peripherals/operating system requirements. In case of the need for a special hardware/peripherals/operating system, the authors should clarify how they will accommodate the presentation during the online conference. 

Contestants must prove their student status at a high school or university during the time of the creation of the student game. Being a student implies that at least 50% of their working week was spent following an academic course or study, and that they were not employed within game-related industries when working on the submission. It is acceptable but not required for the game to have been created as part of a school or university course. Students must provide either (a) a signed letter from their academic supervisor confirming that they were students at the time of the creation of the game, or (b) proof of enrollment in an academic program related to the game project. Each team must provide one proof package – a single file containing scanned proof documents for each team member.

Review Process

Student Game Design Competition submissions will be juried. All identifying information about authors must NOT be anonymized before submission. All selected projects will be finalists at the conference and the winner of the competition will be decided by a jury consisting of academic and/or professional experts in game design and development.

Upon Acceptance

The nominated teams must have at least one student member who will register to attend the conference. This team member is expected to present the game during a Student Game Competition session and take part in the award ceremony. Supervisors are NOT accepted to present the game nor to accept the award. Registration and full attendance of at least one student from the team at the CHI PLAY 2021 conference is mandatory.

The camera-ready version of the submission should acknowledge any assistance drawn from outside (advisors, faculty, domain experts, existing solutions, users, etc.). Affiliations should be clear. Supervisor(s) can be added as an author but the first author must be a student.

During the Conference

Upon acceptance, all submissions must be presented during the conference. Due to going virtual, we are working on updates regarding the submission requirements and exact conference presentation format (this may vary based on the types of games submitted). 

In addition to the presentation, all accepted submissions will be showcased on a common webpage for conference attendees to be able to play. This showcase will include the papers, gameplay videos, and links to access and play the games. If a game cannot be made available to remote attendees easily (e.g., it requires custom hardware or specific infrastructure) accommodations can be made for showcasing the game in other ways on a case by case basis. If you have concerns about this please contact the Student Game Design Competition chairs ().

After the Conference

Student Game Design Competition papers and 2-3 minute gameplay videos are archived in the ACM Digital Library in the CHI PLAY 2021 Extended Abstracts.

Please direct any questions to