Yes, there are in fact video game grants. Now, they won’t buy you a new Playstation 4, but grants for video games are available from a few sources that help fund the development of games. And while these are mostly focused on educational software houses or provided for programs at schools, colleges and universities, there is at least a possibility that if you are a video game developer that you could apply for and receive some funding to help out your latest project. There are also a few scholarships to help students looking to enter the field of video game design as a career choice.
Entertainment Software Association Foundation
This is an association of video game publishers operating in the United States. The ESA Foundation provides a rather cool grant opportunity to educators to involve the use of video games in their classroom lesson plans. The Education Challenge Grant is a yearly competition which encourages the marriage of technology and learning in American classrooms. Teachers interested in participating need only to include any current video game title into a new lesson plan. Judging in this annual competition is handled by professionals from education and video game development. Three winners are selected each year to receive the grant. Past winners include a project which explained urban planning by using SimCity, a STEM education lesson that made use of The Sims and a program for students with developmental disabilities that involved Xbox Kinect.
In addition to the educational grant, the ESA Foundation also provides a number of yearly scholarships for students interested in pursuing degrees related to computer science and video game development. ESAF offers around 30 scholarships each year. The scholarship program is only open to women and minority students who have a 2.75 GPA and are U.S. residents. Each student who receives a scholarship from ESAF will get $3,000 to pay for tuition. Scholarships are usually split evenly between graduating high school seniors and currently enrolled college students. Applications are handled online and are accepted between March 1 and May 15 each year. For more information about the ESAF, visit the foundation’s website or follow them on Twitter @ESAFoundation.
National Endowment for the Arts
As part of the NEA’s ongoing grants process for Art Works, it opened up its category of Media Arts to include video game projects in 2011. This was immediately heralded as a great thing by video game industry blogs like g4tv.com and hated on by government spending watchdog groups like spendopedia.org. But the overall inclusion of video games into media arts funding makes sense and maybe was a bit behind the times that it was only included in recent years. And support here is not massive. Of the 78 media arts grants awarded in 2012, only 4 of them were for projects that involved video games. Art Works accepts applications for grants two times a year, with deadlines in March and August. For more information about how you can apply to receive funding for your video game project, contact the NEA’s Media Arts Specialist Mary Smith by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ludas Project
This project is a new fairly new initiative from the Breneman Jaech Foundation, a family foundation based out of Seattle, WA. The project offers small grants to those working on games that support learning, digital literacy and other educational applications of gaming. Grants are available for up to $5,000 for each project selected for funding. The application process is fairly easy to accomplish. Simply send an email to the foundation describing your group, project goals, proposed schedule, budget and any plans you have to share or market your project after it is completed. These grants are only available for organizations that hold 501c3 status. If you have any questions about how you can get involved with the Ludus initiative, email email@example.com.