Gamers have been advocating the positive effects of video games for years, but today the industry received a considerably more powerful backer: the President of the United States.

Today President Obama announced the launch of the National STEM Video Game Challenge, which aims to motivate children in science, technology, engineering, and math departments with the use of video games. The challenge is being held by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media, with the help of the ESA, Microsoft, and AMD.

"Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation," said President Obama. "I applaud partners in the National STEM Video Game Challenge for lending their resources, expertise, and their enthusiasm to the task of strengthening America’s leadership in the 21st century by improving education in science, technology, engineering and math."

There are two competitions in this year's challenge: A Youth Prize, which tasks middle school students with designing their own video game; and a Developer Prize, which challenges game developers to create educational games for young children. The National STEM Video Game Challenge runs until January 5. For more information on the challenge, check out the above links.