STEM Mio aims to impact students, family and the community by engaging students in inquiry-based STEM learning, educating entire families on STEM careers and Latino role models, and preparing students for college pathways to STEM careers.

Latinos make up the youngest and fastest growing demographic in the US but remain underrepresented in STEM professions. While clearly capable, Latino students often lack familiarity with potential STEM careers, Latino STEM role models, and the college resources available to them.

To address this, the Center for Games & Impact (CGI) invites you and your community to join STEM Mio, a digital empowerment platform and community designed to support Latino students and their families in realizing STEM college and career pathways.

(click image to view Platform Screenshot)

STEM Mio is an innovative and targeted approach to STEM learning and college preparation, funded by the National Science Foundation, and created by Learning Scientists at CGI (Arizona State University), in an exciting collaboration with Vme Media (VME), E-Line Media, and the Hispanic Association of College & Universities (HACU).

STEM Mio Platform

Powered by CGI’s ThriveCast platform, the STEM Mio program supports middle and high school Latino youth as they explore their personal passions, match those to STEM futures, connect with Latino STEM mentors, and gain the experiences to become strong college applicants. The STEM Mio journey is inspired through peer stories, supported through carefully designed learning challenges and peer championing, and culminates in real-world achievements.

The STEM Mio Journeys blend digital experiences (3D immersive games, career and personality inventories, online mentors, etc) with real-world experiences (doing hands on STEM activities, interviewing professionals, completing college and scholarship applications, etc). Notably, the game platform goes beyond STEM to help shape students through self-re ection, academic goal-setting, becoming a student mentor, and supporting strategic planning for college and careers.


To support learning, students play STEM Mio in cohorts, either with their teacher/facilitator, or with other students online. Students can review each other’s accomplishments, and Teachers and STEM professionals give feedback as mentors. Learning is managed through a Teacher Dashboard, which shows players’ progress and accomplishments. The students, mentors, and teachers support each other as they explore STEM learning, grow their potential, and chart a course for college and career success.


As a companion to the game-based journey and learning activities, VME has created a television series, Generación STEM, to engage entire families with STEM, college, and the bene ts of these careers. These episodes are available in English within STEM Mio, and in Spanish for families to watch together on TV and online.

This work is happening in partnership with our stakeholders and partners on this grant:

vmetvVME Media, (Spanish public television), is creating a TV series ‘Generaćion Digital’ to focus on STEM Latino professionals, a ‘day-in-the-life’, which focuses on how to enter these fields from multiple perspectives (professionals, students, educators and families). This will be aired weekly to a family audience with links to STEM Mio community events, the ASU journey platform, and college admissions and tours information.

HACUHACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) will be providing their college preparation resources, workshops, and nationwide network of schools to help support Latino students prepare to succeed in college applications and studies. As an exciting goal, HACU will provide campus tours to 1300 Hispanic students who ‘level up’ their future in the STEM Mio game platform and earn this exciting opportunity.

E-Line-MediaE-Line Media, game design studio, creates innovative STEM-related video games and hosts a nationwide annual STEM Video Game Design Challenge. Their STEM-related game, Gamestar Mechanic, will be offered in a Spanish-friendly version with connections to game design careers. This focused game, and their Design Challenge will be included in the TV series, featuring Hispanic teens doing STEM and highlighting the exciting things they design.

For information, collaborations, or to bring STEM Mio to your community, please contact Dr. Anna Arici at This work was supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Clim’City Parent Impact Guide

Clim’City Player Impact Guide

Flower Parent Impact Guide

Flower Player Impact Guide

Minecraft Parent Impact Guide

Minecraft Player Impact Guide

Minecraft Impact Guide for Teachers

Erratum to: Relating Narrative, Inquiry, and Inscriptions: Supporting Consequential Play

Environmental Sustainability

The future of our nation and the planet is dependent upon our ability to solve multiple global environmental crises.  We must ensure that we have sustainable sources of water, materials, and resources to protect global human health, our shared environment, and the global economy. To fully understand the implications of our current environmental challenges, people need a deep understanding of how the scientific method applies to complex systems.  If our society is going to develop and harness rapidly evolving technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, or personal fabrication (to name but a few), we will need a generation of scientifically literate people. Games can create spaces where players can experience the myriad of natural and human interacting variables that affect the sustainability of our environment. It has become a common understanding that change and sustainable living cannot be forced onto people.  Change and sustainability involve a transformation of entire ecologies of human beliefs, values, and practices.

More than a simulation, games are unique in that they can establish play environments where players understand complexity and complex systems from both inside the system (locally) and from a god’s eye view above it (globally).  Whereas simulations let the user visualize concepts, games let players act and test hypotheses and experience the consequences, intended and unintended.  Players can explore different options and see the long-term perils of inadequate short-term solutions. Games let players – and policy makers – explore scenarios in a safe environment where they can fail, iterate, and continually improve solutions.

Key Questions: Can games mobilize a population to make sustainable lifestyle changes? Can games inform policy about sustainable courses of action? Can games provide people feedback about the importance and impact of their choices? Can games support collective real-world action, so necessary if we are going to conserve our environment for future generations?

Playing for Impact: Ritual, ARGs, and IRL Change

“Reality is broken. Game designers can fix it.”

So says JaneMcGonigal, game designer and researcher, when talking about her quest to use massive multiplayer gaming to solve social problems facing the world today. Her point is provocative and the argument is persuasive. However, it can be contended that the point is slightly different than the basic statement, “Reality is broken.” In that case, one might assume a singular, objective, reality. Instead, perhaps the case is that realities are multiple. Cultural communications and media scholar James Carey says, “Reality is not a given, not humanly independent of language… Rather, reality is brought into existence, is produced, by communication…the construction, apprehension, and utilization of symbolic forms.”[1] This production, according to Carey, is dependent on ritual. That is, ritual is key to how realities are constructed and he points out the importance of understanding this phenomenon in the context of human communication and our communities: “A ritual view of communication is directed not toward the extension of message in space but toward the maintenance of society in time; not the act of imparting information but representation of shared beliefs.” In any case, McGonigal and Carey’s assertions on reality and how games have a positive impact on social change, in real life, can be examined through Alternate Reality Games (ARGs).

ARGs include the use of multiple technologies to augment reality and the real-world as a platform in game play. We already have ritualized the use of the multiple technologies in our real world lives. Additionally, just as real life is, ARGs are interactive and social in nature. Game designs are narrative based and promote players to connect with each other while contributing to building the game’s story during play. It is key to the ARG that players are collaborating as they are problem solving and building their narrative through a participatory culture. The skills needed to play and win these games are the kinds of skills needed to approach problem solving in our world today – McGonigal calls players super-empowered-hopeful-individuals (SEHIs) and she takes them to task in games she designed, like WorldWithoutOil (WWO), Superstruct, and EVOKE. Each of these games constructs an alternative, virtual reality that allows players to propose solutions to real-world problems. In WWO, a game created to imagine the first few weeks of a global oil crisis, players created solutions to living without oil-reliant resources in their daily lives. In order to play the game, participants implemented the solutions they created in their REAL daily lives leading to a positive impact on oil consumption outside of the game reality. For example, players biked to work, or grew their own food, and used a preferred mode of communication (blogs, videos, voicemail, etc.) to report on their activities, communicate with each other, and encourage each other. The epic win of this game is not through beating the last level in an immersive computer environment. Winning WWO happens in a player’s daily life as she is empowered by the knowledge that her action does have a direct impact on the future of our world.

McGonigal says: “Gamers are trained to believe they can win.” When we play, we are practicing for real life. SEHIs, she says, come together with a sense of “urgent optimism” and extreme self-motivation, build trust and cooperation by weaving together social fabric (she adds, “We like people better after we’ve played with them.”), are excited by “blissful opportunity” (that is, the notion we are happier working hard if it is the right kind of work), and are creating “epic meaning” for themselves. Imagine injecting these notions into the existing framework of one’s daily life – As World Without Oil shows, it is possible through the mere playing of the game. Though WWO as a game is over, the record of this game is maintained in an online archive. Lesson plans are provided for teachers to use in the classroom. These plans do not just show students how to play a socially responsible game. Instead the WWO archives seeks to persuade teachers and students to continue to play their own versions of the game, thus preparing another generation of gamers to understand that their own actions have an impact in their daily lives and the lives of others. Though he did not address ARG games specifically, Carey says this is the goal of studying human communications: “to understand the meanings that others have placed on experience, to build up a veridical record of what has been said at other times, in other places, and in other ways; to enlarge the human conversation by comprehending what others are saying.”  WWO does this, and does so with a socially conscious purpose. Or, as quoted on the WWO archive site, “If you want to change the future, play with it first.” (Stefanie Olsen, C|Net)

ARGs like WWO designed are to persuade players to use creative collaboration without a focus negative consequences for failure. In fact, contrary to some existing problem solving systems, for gamers it is through meaningful play and repeated failure, feedback, and behavior modification that winning becomes possible. Again, it is not necessarily that reality is broken. Perhaps, instead of looking at reality as broken, it is our approach that we need to adjust. Using ARGs in this context persuades us to change our routines, to augment our habits within reality, and to play together to positively impact our world.

Resources for Alternate Reality Games 

[1] Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society by James Carey (1992)