Young people (aged 13 to 24) in the United States are at significant risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). One in four new HIV infections are in young people aged 13 to 24 years, about 1,000 youth are infected with HIV every month, and about 60% of those infected are not aware they have HIV and are not receiving treatment (CDC, 2012). Young people are at significant risk of STDs. Young people aged 15 to 24 years make up nearly half of the 19 million new STD diagnoses each year (CDC, 2010).  Young women in this age group have the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea (CDC, 2010).  People with STDs are at least two to five times more likely than people without STDs to get HIV if they are exposed to the HIV through sexual contact (CDC, 2010).  Given the high rates of HIV infection and STDs, it is critical to educate young people about behaviors and actions they can take to reduce their HIV and STD risk.

CDC’s mission is to protect the health of the nation through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats.  It is important for CDC to develop programs and messages that are accurate and appropriate for the target population.   Therefore, to address HIV and STDs among adolescents (13 to 17 years) and young adults (18 to 24 years), CDC must develop innovative, appealing and relevant ways to reach youth with important health information and resources. The goal of this Challenge is to develop an HIV/STD prevention game acceptable to a wide range of adolescents and young adults that also maintains the standards of a CDC product.  

Game applications (apps) played on smartphones, such as iPhones or Android phones, are an unexplored avenue for providing education and resources to prevent HIV and STDs among at-risk youth. This is an important approach to consider because video gaming can be an integral part of the lives of American youth; and is popular among youth across gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and sexual orientation. According to a national survey of 12- to 17-year-olds by the Pew Internet American Life Project (2008), 99% of boys and 94% of girls report playing video games. Games have been used in many contexts to successfully engage and motivate youth in support of health promotion behavior  (Noar & Harrington, 2012). For many youth, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their social experience. They play video games with others in the same room, and online with people they know or strangers. Researchers estimate that 27% of the online audience play at least one social networked game each month (eMarketer, 2011).

The goal of the Game On! Challenge is to support the development of an original and innovative game app for smartphones.  The game app will educate young people about HIV and STD prevention. The target population for this game is adolescents aged 13 to 17 years or young adults aged 18 to 24 years.  The game will provide key prevention messages and meet objectives outlined below:

  • Be entertaining, fun, engaging, and appropriate for adolescents (13 to 17 years) or young adults (18 to 24 years).  Developers are encouraged to treat youth and young adults as distinct audience/player segments in the design of the game. 
  • Deliver accurate health messages that emphasize the importance of one or more of the following five messages supporting HIV and STD prevention:

    1. Get the Facts - Provide the facts on HIV and STDs, including how it is (and is not) spread. Share information on how to reduce the risk of HIV and STD transmission including the choice not to have sex.
    2. Speak Up – Encourage youth to talk about HIV and STDs in their relationships, with health care providers, friends, and family. Talking openly and honestly about HIV and STDs will help reduce stigma.
    3. Use Condoms - When used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and STDs. 
    4. Get Tested - Early diagnosis saves lives. Know where to get tested. Make HIV and STD testing a part of routine health care.
    5. Get Treated – Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. There are effective medications available to help people with HIV live long and healthy lives.
  • Include storyline and features of the game to support positive relationships and the ability of youth to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexuality.   

Following the contest, all games will undergo further evaluation.  The prize winning games may be used “as is” in its entirety or revised for a final game using segments or concepts from the first and second place winners into one game.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors Among Youths — United States. MMWR, 61(47); 971-976.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2009. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

EMarketer (2011). Social Gaming: marketers make their move. New York: NY.

Noar, S. M. & Harrington, N. G. (2012). E health applications: Promising strategies for behavior change. New York: Routledge.

Pew Internet American Life Project (2008). Teens, Video Games, and Civics. Washington, D.C. : Lenhart, A., Kahne, J., Middaugh, E., Macgill, A. R., Evans, C., and Vitak, J.


Game On! HIV/STD Prevention Mobile Application (App) Video Game Challenge is only open to individuals, private or public entities, or groups that meet the following requirements: In the case of a private entity, the entity must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States who is at least 15 years old at the time of entry. If the contestant/submitter is younger than 18 at the time of entry, the contestant/submitter must submit written permission from a parent or guardian. Employees and contractors of CDC are not eligible. The contest is subject to all applicable federal laws and regulations. Participation constitutes the contestant’s full and unconditional agreement to these official rules, which are final and binding in all matters related to the contest. Eligibility for winning and acknowledgement is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. An individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible because the individual or entity used federal facilities or consulted with federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available equally to all individuals and entities participating in the competition.

Participants who enter as part of a team understand and agree that submission of an entry constitutes their representation and warranty that all the members of the team have read and accepted the rules. The eligibility of the contestant is tied to the team’s eligibility; if one member of the team does not comply with these rules or is disqualified, the team as a whole will be disqualified.



The game must

  • Have a storyline and game play that addresses one or more of the five key HIV/STD prevention messages: Get the Facts, Speak Up, Use Condoms, Get Tested, or Get Treated.
  • Be developed for smartphones running Android version 4.x or higher,Apple iOS version 5.x or higher, or Windows Phone.
  • Have simple and straightforward rules and objectives.
  • Have an acceptable genre. Examples of acceptable genres include: action/adventure, puzzles, simulations (SIM), survival, interactive movies, and platformers.
  • Be submitted through via active URL that provides link to the following:
  1. Application package kit (APK) or .ipa file.
  2. Source code (in ZIP file) that contains the Xcode or Eclipse project. If submitting an HTML5-based app, ZIP file should include all markup, style sheets, scripts, and media [for winning entries only].
  3. Video demonstrating active game play and features of the game. The video should clearly outline the objective of the game, the rules of play (core mechanics), user interface controls, and design approach.
  4. Written Technical Design Document.
  5. Proof of royalty-free status of all project assets, including source code, talent, art, models, textures, music and effects [for winning entries only].  
  • Function properly. All submissions must function as detailed in the documentation provided with minimal or no errors (software bugs).  
  • Include documentation for any needed licenses for any 3rd party middleware used in the development of the game, such as game engines, graphic engines, and physics engines.
  • Be an original game.


The game must not

(Submissions will be disqualified if they contain any of the following)

  • Have been distributed or previously displayed or acknowledged publicly through any modality.
  • Include endorsements of private products, services, or enterprises.
  • Include profane language, nudity, pornography, graphic violence, weapons, blood and gore, or personal attacks on people or organizations.
  • Include material that is hateful, offensive, or slanderous.
  • Include material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred, or harm against any group or individual; or promotes discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or age.
  • Include inaccurate or misleading information about HIV and STDs.
  • Contain malware.  The submission will be disqualified if the app could damage government or others’ equipment or operating environment.
  • Contain characters that bear reasonable likeness to any well-known person, celebrity, or political figure.


The game would ideally:

  • Use mobile device features, including but are not limited to touch, multi touch, tilt (accelerometer), rear camera, front camera, voice recognition, text to speech, speech to text, networking, and cloud storage space.
  • Include a minimum of 10-15 minutes of active play or replay time.
  • Have an original and catchy name.



Hackathon Sponsors


$30,000 in prizes

First Place

One first-place winner will receive $20,000.

Second Place

One second-place winner will receive $10,000.

Honorable Mention (3)

Up to three honorable mentions will be recognized.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

Interested parties should first read the Submission Requirements and the Official Rules. All submissions must be submitted through All participants must create a ChallengePost account and submit their entry through the ChallengePost entry form. If you have questions about the challenge, please email us at


Karen Schrier

Karen Schrier
Assistant Professor of Communication at Marist College

Ivar Chan

Ivar Chan
CEO at GameMix

Joshua Glazer

Joshua Glazer
Co-Founder, Chief Technology Officer at Naked Sky Entertainment

Steven-Elliot Altman

Steven-Elliot Altman
Chief Executive Officer at Social Impulse

Dwight Dunbar

Dwight Dunbar
Member of the Georgia Game Developers Association

Jamison Selby

Jamison Selby
Founder of Monkey King Games

Daniel Greenberg

Daniel Greenberg
Owner and Founder of Media Rez Game Studios

Judging Criteria

  • Incorporation of key messages*
  • Creativity in addressing HIV/STD prevention topics
  • The game supports positive relationships and responsible decisions about sexuality.
  • The game content is age-appropriate for the intended target population, i.e. 13- 17 or 18- 24 years old
  • The game functions properly
  • The game is easy to play and user-friendly
  • The rules and objectives of the game are clear and easy to understand
  • The game is entertaining; it is interesting enough to encourage repeat play among members of the target population
  • The game has broad appeal to the target population
  • The game creatively integrates phone functions like camera, GPS, and social networking sites

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