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Meet the 2024 Unity for Humanity Grant winners

May 20, 2024 in Games | 8 min. read
MAYA: The Birth of A Superhero
MAYA: The Birth of A Superhero
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After reviewing nearly 500 projects, we are excited to share the winners of the 2024 Unity for Humanity Grant. All creators receiving funding this year are using real-time 3D to drive change in truly innovative ways that embody Unity’s Social Impact mission.

Projects were judged based on vision, impact, inclusion, and viability. Winners will receive a bespoke grant from a pool of $500,000 USD, plus technical support from Unity to help bring their projects to life. 

Jewel, the multi-platinum singer-songwriter, New York Times bestselling author, mental health pioneer, and cofounder of Inspiring Children Foundation (ICF) and Innerworld, threw her support behind this year’s Unity for Humanity campaign as a guest judge, providing a review of the applicants and selections for this year’s winners and honorees. 

For over 22 years, the Inspiring Children Foundation (ICF) has transformed lives of underserved youth through a whole human approach to physical, social, emotional, and mental health.

ICF’s free online mental health tool kit, along with JewelNeverBroken.com (a free online community and curriculum), integrates mental health behavioral resources and tools with best-in-class peer support programming. These trusted and proven tools have been the foundation for the emerging metaverse-based mental health platform, Innerworld. Both ICF and Innerworld have helped countless young people build meaningful connections, learn mindfulness, and expand their self-efficacy to heal, grow, and flourish. 

We are proud to collaborate on this crucial mission with the ICF to make wellness tools widely accessible for free to those in need. Explore the ICF mental fitness library and Jewel Never Broken to learn more.

This year’s Unity for Humanity winners

campfire scene for Akiiwan Survival
Akiiwan Survival

Akiiwan: Survival 

Little Buffalo Studios 

Akiiwan: Survival is a crafting/survival game created by Indigenous communities around the world. In it, players discover the stories and wisdom of Indigenous nations through their crafts, tools, and survival skills. It aims to “re-Indigenize” this genre by ensuring players win through finding balance, not endlessly exploiting resources, while also restoring Indigenous technologies and knowledge to a place of pride. Akiiwan is an Anishinaabe word that means “It is the Earth.” Players learn through gameplay that “we live because everything else does.”

Crab God Hero Image
Crab God

Crab God: Mother of the Tide 

Chaos Theory Games

Crab God is an entertainment game meant to create a positive impact on ocean conservation and climate change. Gamers play as a colossal crab who is guiding its crab babies (crablings) through a great migration across the ocean, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Mariana Trench. Players must nurture a healthy ecosystem that can support them on their journey in order for their crablings to survive.

Chaos Theory already offsets stage 1 and stage 2 emissions, meaning the production of the game is carbon neutral. Crab God will also offset all emissions from player engagement, making it a truly green game.

eddie and i hero image

Eddie and I

Moosh Studio

Eddie and I is a VR experience that blends interactive storytelling with hand-tracking technology to teach sign language and promote empathy. It invites users to interact with a deaf young boy, encouraging communication through sign language learned in the VR environment. The experience exposes users to new perspectives and highlights the power of communication, courage, and diversity, acting as a link between the digital and real worlds. The project draws inspiration from the director’s 10-year-old deaf niece, adding depth and realism to the VR experience.

The narrative centers on Ron, an eight-year-old deaf boy afraid of his first camping trip. His mother's story about “Eddie the Camper,” a friendly blue monster, transports Ron into a fantastical forest adventure, where the user steps into Eddie's role. In this 25-minute journey, the user and Ron collaborate to complete various tasks and overcome challenges, learning sign language along the way.

woman named Maya
The Birth of A Superhero

MAYA: The Birth of A Superhero

Just Another Production Company

MAYA: The Birth of a Superhero is an immersive story following Maya, an ordinary 21st-century girl, as she transforms into a uniquely female superhero whose powers derive from the process of menstruation. This is a work of embodied activism. The player is an active participant in their journey through real and magical worlds. They must find strength and magic within themselves. From trauma emerges a power based on self-love and solidarity. 

An odyssey of womanhood and femininity, referencing ancient symbols of spiritual and feminine power, the piece draws together the real and the imaginary to trace possible paths to resilience and justice.

Man using VR headset
Surgeons Without Borders

Surgeons Without Borders

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The Surgical Mediverse and VR3S platform leverages the power of a Unity-based VR gaming network to create a global collaboration, aiming to enhance medical outcomes and equalize access to advanced health technologies worldwide.

The goal of the project is to reduce infant mortality by lowering congenital heart disease (CHD) mortality in infants. In the U.S., CHD mortality has dropped by over 50% due to advanced surgical techniques. However, success remains dependent on surgeon experience. Surgeons Without Borders’ focus is on improving mortality, especially in low-to-middle income countries (LMICs) where experience is limited. Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as a cost-effective tool for surgical planning and has the potential to greatly improve outcomes worldwide. The team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has developed a VR Surgical Simulation Suite (VR3S) for detailed 3D surgical planning and has multiuser capabilities to connect surgeons globally and, someday, save all children’s lives.

climate change game
The Arctic Lighthouse

The Arctic Lighthouse

Platô Cultural & The Necessary Space

The Arctic Lighthouse is an AR Game about climate change connecting young changemakers from all over the globe on a mission to protect portals to a sustainable future. The game, featuring physics-based interactions and 3D scenarios, introduces players to a scientist from a collapsed future, who invites them to join the mission to rewrite the future and save the planet. Players travel back and forth from an “Arctic Lighthouse” in 2073 to complete challenges and discover and “reintegrate” portals to sustainable futures in their present.

mental health game self reflection
The Light Within

The Light Within

Pomsky Games

The Light Within is a mobile adventure game focused on mental health featuring a biracial protagonist and queer characters. The Light Within is narrative-based and uses nonviolent puzzle-solving mechanics and real-world tools for improving mental health. Throughout the course of the game, the main character, Erin, courageously explores her inner world and many sub-personalities representing different mental health issues, eventually coming to terms with all of them.

Solving problems in the game requires players to use real-world mental health techniques like breath control, self-compassion, and mindfulness.

VR experience YourHaven
VR experience YourHaven

YourHaven

Haven Studios

YourHaven allows young people to design immersive, scalable mental health and wellness support to reduce youth violence and improve employability skills and wellbeing. Using the Haven Engine, young people can cocreate sessions that focus on anything from anxiety reduction to trauma recovery and deescalation. The sessions are personalizable and usable by any number of people at one time, in any language.

Haven is working with award-winning charities like Art Against Knives and Milk & Honey to have young people design mental health services that really work for them. Through a series of workshops, they will work from the ideation to the publication stage, learning VR development and product management skills, and more importantly, building interactive, personalized therapy sessions that help young people reduce anxiety, deescalate violence and thrive after experiencing hardships.

Honorable mentions

woman wearing VR goggles
BetaBEN

BetaBEN

Benvision Inc.

BetaBEN will be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the visually impaired. This project is centered around empowering this community with unprecedented levels of independence and mobility by transforming the way visually impaired individuals perceive and navigate their environment.

dog overlooking beach
Waves of Jeju

Waves of Jeju

Old Hara Studios LLC

Waves of Jeju is a VR game that educates players about environmental justice and climate solutions, while facilitating cross-cultural awareness and healing. The story is told from the perspective of a Korean Jindo puppy and a Haenyeo free diver showing how their resilient community fills them with hope for a livable world for future generations despite all that they have faced.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and honorees – we can’t wait to share more of their projects with you. If you’re a social impact creator, join the Unity for Humanity Community Discord to meet like-minded creators. If you have a project you’d like to submit in the future, sign up to the Social Impact mailing list for updates about when next year’s grant will open.

May 20, 2024 in Games | 8 min. read

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