A free, family-friendly annual event for gamers of all levels
About SAAM Arcade 2020
We are now accepting applications for the 2020 Indie Developer Showcase! The theme for SAAM Arcade 2020 is Game Changers.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment—a centennial being celebrated across the Smithsonian and in SAAM programming all year—the theme of the 2020 SAAM Arcade is focused on the role of women in affecting major change in society, in the political sphere, and in the gaming industry.
In 1848, activists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton invited their peers to convene in Seneca Falls, New York, where the group agreed that women could—and should—have their own political identities—and that meant they deserved the right to vote. After the Civil War, more and more women joined new organizations dedicated to promoting women’s suffrage. It wasn’t until the United States entry into WWI that the tide truly turned. For the first time, a woman was elected to Congress; women stood in for men in the American workforce in fields that had never previously hired female workers. Having made themselves invaluable to the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson called for women’s suffrage as a war measure. The bill passed in 1919, and was enacted into national law on August 18, 1920.
The struggle to change the status quo has always been present in video game narratives—in fact, many of the most iconic relationships in game narratives are centered on the underestimated individual, striving against the dominant force. The most iconic game characters—Mario, Lara Croft, Ms. Pac-Man—face ongoing struggles that can only be overcome by a combination of resourcefulness, skill, and tireless dedication. The American mythos has that legacy in common with video games—our nation’s greatest heroes struggled against the grain, fighting to create a better world for themselves, their friends and families, and the American people.
The fight for women’s suffrage was not the first fight for American rights, nor was it the last. To this day, we look to great reformers and activists as American heroes, individuals who stood up against tyranny and injustice and worked for a better future for themselves and their descendants. The fight for women’s rights—and for the rights of all Americans—has continued into the 21st century, and today’s reformers celebrate the work of women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony while continuing to expand their definitions of justice, fairness, and civic duty.
The application for SAAM Arcade 2020 will be open until 5 p.m. on April 15, 2020.
SAAM Arcade 2019
Last year's theme, “breaking barriers,” showcased projects that recognize and relish the diversity of gaming audiences, allowing a wide-array of players to see themselves and their interests reflected on screen.
At SAAM, we believe that video games are a medium that has a great capacity for expanding the way Americans tell and experience stories. We also believe that this potential will only be fully realized when game makers, players, characters, companies and cultures are diverse and when all participants receive equitable and respectful treatment within these communities. SAAM Arcade strives to highlight traditionally underrepresented segments within the gaming world by celebrating diversity within this artistic medium.
2019 Keynote Talk
2019 Blog Posts
Eye Level, June 27, 2019, "SAAM Arcade: Breaking Barriers"
Eye Level, July 11, 2019, “SAAM Arcade: Empathy in Gaming”
Eye Level, July 30, 2019, “SAAM Arcade 2019: Representation Matters"
Eye Level, August 15, 2019, “Game Over: Images from SAAM Arcade 2019"
For more information, email us at SAAMArcade@si.edu