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NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Presents First-Ever "Made in NY" Grant at the Game Devs of Color Expo

Recipient Geneva Heyward Honored as Lead Developer on Skate & Date Game

NEW YORK - The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) is proud to announce that Geneva Heyward was awarded the first-ever "Made in NY" Grant at the 7th Annual Game Devs of Color Expo, which took place virtually on Sunday, September 18, 2022. In total, five 2022 grant recipients were announced at the expo who collectively received more than $90,000 in funding. The Game Devs of Color Expo is dedicated to amplifying the creative power held by people of color in games and creating an equitable games industry.

"We are proud to support the Game Devs of Color Expo for a second consecutive year and congratulate Geneva Heyward on receiving the first-ever "Made in NY" developer grant," said NYC Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne del Castillo. "As we continue to work toward building an equitable and inclusive digital games industry in NYC, supporting a diverse group of up-and-coming talent from across the five boroughs is key to our success."

"NYC has always been an important part of the Game Devs of Color Expo, whether it's in person at the historic Schomburg Center in Harlem, or a virtual event. We're excited to continue partnering with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment in our mission to highlight and support amazing creators of color and their work," said Game Devs of Color Expo Co-organizer, Chris Algoo.

"I'm so honored and grateful to be the recipient of this grant! There are so many amazing game developers in this city, and I hope more of them will be able to get the chance to have their art supported like this," said "Made in NY" Grant recipient, Geneva Heyward.

"Made in NY" Grant recipient Geneva Heyward is a graduate of NYU's Game Center, the Art and Design High School in Manhattan and the School of Interactive Arts after-school program. A former intern at Glow Up Games, Heyward helped create the game Green Hero, which won awards from Games for Change as well as the National STEM Video Game Challenge in 2017. Most recently, Heyward was Lead Developer on the simulated dating game Skate & Date.

Skate & Date, a dating sim, features rhythm elements that are central to the game's storyline. The game follows a high schooler named Maggie, the star player on her roller derby team. When she falls in love with one of her rivals during game play, it's up to her to impress her crush with rhythmic roller derby skills. In development since 2018, the "Made in NY" grant will allow Heyward to access the extra assets and resources needed to release Skate & Date in 2023.

Mayor Adams' "Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City's Economic Recovery" plan outlined the city's desire to make NYC a leading hub for digital game development. The first-ever New York City Digital Games Industry Economic Impact Report, released in 2021, found that the industry generates $2 billion in economic output annually. The study also revealed that over half of game development firms in New York City are independently run with solo developers or small teams of less than five people focused on creating and building new apps. These indie game developers challenge the industry's approach to issues of social equity, diversity, and inclusion by weaving salient themes and narratives within their games.

The "Made in NY" Grant creation and presentation follows several initiatives announced by MOME in 2022, including a $2 million investment in a new CUNY City College Digital Game Design Bachelor's Degree program aimed at increasing diversity and equity in the digital gaming field. A collaboration with Urban Arts and Harlem Gallery of Science, this holistic program creates a pathway from high school to the digital gaming industry through a rigorous curricula and evidence-based pedagogical approach.