The results are in! The winner of this year’s Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest, addressing the theme Video Games in the Crosshairs, is “Future Warfare III” by Ani Akpan of the Bronx, NY. Using dazzling visual effects, Akpan thrusts the viewer into a near-future society where gaming approaches virtual reality and Big Brother takes a hard line stance, spurring gamers to speak back.

“I chose (…) to defend why video games are important because they really are an essential part of many people's lives,” Akpan said. “Games provide a means of escape from the real world into one experienced by the player.”

2ND PLACE "A Virtual Reality" by Peter Ackerman

The second place prize goes to “A Virtual Reality,” by Peter Ackerman of Augusta, Maine. Ackerman interviews friends, video game enthusiasts and a psychologist in a lively documentary exploring gaming and its effect on gamers.

3RD PLACE "Initial Testing" by Austin Guerrero

Austin Guerrero of Gresham, Oregon took third place with his dramatic action thriller “Initial Testing,” in which a night playing video games veers into the unknown, in the tradition of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

This year’s People’s Choice Award winner, with greatest number of “Likes” on YouTube, is “Perception of Gamers,” by Daniella Sanchez. Sanchez combines a confessional style, in-game video and footage of TV news pundits to explain the value she finds in games and her frustration at those who vilify gaming.