Cultural Heritage Game Jam Winners Honored at Expo2020

January 13, 2022

The winners of the Cultural Heritage Game Jam were announced on December 16, 2021, at the USA Pavilion at Expo2020 in Dubai.  This global videogame development contest brought together 850 participants from 72 countries to create 116 new games that raise awareness about threats to cultural heritage and to celebrate diverse cultural art, artifacts, traditions, and places.  The competition judges scored the games based on their educational design principles, innovation, level of engagement, accessibility, art, and audio. 

The game “Purunmachu: Whispers of the Chachapoyas” won the grand prize.  The game confronts the player, a member of a pre-Hispanic people, with a dilemma:  loot the sacred objects of the Chachapoyas for short-term gain, or save their heritage for the spiritual life and future of their people? 

One of the game’s developers, Vania Castagningo Ugolotti, said, “We would like to highlight our multicultural team, with developers from Sweden, Peru, and Iran.  It’s the mix of our viewpoints that enriches our game.”  Her teammate Nahid Moosavi added, “We hope we can develop our game and deliver the main message of protecting cultural heritage to all players.” 

Members of the grand prize-winning team have been invited to travel to San Francisco in March 2022 for the Game Developers Conference to share innovative ways to protect heritage through gaming and meet with industry leaders.   

Other Winning Games: 

  • Second Place: “smART Detective” is a U.S./Italian collaboration in which players must discover and identify lost Italian paintings using conservation techniques. 

  • Third Place: “Ai Apaec” celebrates the ancient Moche culture of Peru as you play as the hero Ai Apaec to rescue the sun.  

  • Fourth Place: “Involved” is a boardgame in which players must work cooperatively to balance urban development and heritage revitalization in Varna, Bulgaria.   

  • Fifth Place: “Siamese:  Puzzle Heritage Game” challenges players to re-construct five temples from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sukhothai Historical Park in Thailand. 

Watch the recording of the awards ceremony at the USA Pavilion at Expo2020 Dubai here: 

Play all the games from the Cultural Heritage Game Jam here: 


About the Cultural Antiquities Task Force 

Created by the State Department in 2004 at the direction of Congress, the CATF comprises federal agencies that share a common mission to disrupt cultural property trafficking in the United States and abroad. Since its creation, the CATF has supported more than 100 domestic and international cultural property training programs. CATF is a law enforcement-focused working group of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee.  Both are managed by the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center.