Proof of growing respect for gaming, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded its first grant to a video game developer. According to AllGov.com, the NEA gave a combined total of $290,000 in support a variety of non-profit gaming projects this year, proving that gaming actually is an art, at least according to the US government.
Despite the fact that these projects are technically video games, we seriously doubt that you'll be wanting to play them any time soon. Rather than innovative titles that try to take gaming to places it's never been before, most of the titles are at best classed as 'edutainment.'
Spelman College in Atlanta received the largest grant, raking in $100,000 to develop 'HERadventure,' a game about a 'young female superhero who wants to save the Earth from global warming.' A New York based startup called Let's Breakthrough got $75,000 to create a 'creative exploration of democracy, diversity, and social change,' geared towards children.
The University of Southern California was awarded $40,000 to create a game based on Henry David Thoreau's writings about Walden Pond, which would seem to be a little bit blasphemous, considering that Thoreau’s writings are focused on simple living and reconnecting with nature.
Last but not least, another New York City studio received a $75,000 grant to create a Facebook game based on Half the Sky, a book that contains 'true stories about women overcoming obstacles.'
It's great to see that gaming is getting some traction as a form of art, but we'd really rather see the money go towards really creative efforts that really try to use the medium to do something artistic. It's definitely a step in the right direction, but edutainment titles that only a tiny audience will ever see are a long way from the best examples of artistic gaming. Until then, there's always KickStarter.