Games For Everybody with Pixel Arts Game Education.
Games are an intensely creative act of imagining new worlds. They invite us to interact and dive deeper, to explore and discover a shared world. Games can bring us together through play and help us to build healthy, inclusive, caring communities. At Pixel Arts Game Education, our mission is to inspire, support, and empower all underserved youth in STEAM—Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics—with game making. Games for Everybody drives our vision that all youth can be world builders, problem solvers, and innovators of community and social change.
Each year at festivals and community events, families ask us, “How do I support my child in their interests? How do I help? How do I keep them safe?” Our answer is, look around right now at the kids playing games with their peers, with parents and grandparents, and with strangers. Watch or play their games with them. See why Minecraft, Among Us, or Undertale captures their imagination. Talk to them, discover it with them, and help them grow as healthy gamers. Teach them to welcome and support people into the diversity of gaming. Games are for Everybody.
When we talk to youth, especially those who don’t see themselves in STEAM, game-making opens up a new space of freedom and belonging. “That is so cool. Can I do that? How do I start?” Games are a bridge to new pathways of discovery. Youth see themselves in different ways, more than players but as makers and designers creating together. From coding and systems design to storytelling and digital music, youth can discover they already do belong in STEAM.
Play, Make, and Design for Equity
Over the last 7 years, diverse youth have coded thousands of games, interactive stories, and animations with us in game camps, workshops, festivals, and classes. Our mission required us to build bridges with youth across digital divides—crossing economic, social, and geographic barriers—that marginalize them from Portland’s technology opportunities. Reaching underserved youth has meant partnering with a vibrant community of organizations and traveling to where youth live. Our camps are in after-school programs with Multnomah County Libraries and public schools as well as at low-income housing with Home Forward and at local community centers.
Our strongest equity work has come from collaborating with the NE STEAM Coalition (NESC), which is dedicated to creating a BIPOC-led ecosystem of education opportunities, resources, workforce development, and other support for BIPOC youth and families. We’ve grown with them to create culturally specific STEAM programs and collaborate with BIPOC serving groups. Through the coalition, we have worked with community partners such as SEI, IRCO, Girls, Inc., ChickTech, and PCC Cascade to reach and engage youth.
Our goal is to do more than offer STEAM opportunities and resources. Equity has also meant collaborative grant writing with the NESC, training BIPOC students to become STEAM mentors, and investing in in-kind service to create new programs and local Maker spaces. Together, we are helping grow the Coalition’s capacity and build systems that are anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-colonial, and anti-exclusionary of BIPOC and LGBTQUIA2S+ youth.
What do we need? As a micro non-profit, we seek resources to keep innovating in our STEAM work and to serve more youth. From laptops to introductions to funders, donations expand our collective impact and sustainability. We invite you to join us in directing funding to the NE STEAM Coalition and to help us build community change with Games for Everybody.
This blog post is part of an awareness campaign about organizations working to advance STEM education opportunities for Oregon youth. A big thank you to Oregon Community Foundation for supporting STEM education!