Although the 2013 Imagine Cup was over a couple of months ago, Microsoft has only just announced the winners of its Kodu Challenge, which added a contest for students as young as 9-years old.
The Kodu Challenge was a last minute addition to the line up of the Imagine Cup but it was very much in keeping with its humanitarian ideals. Its eco-friendly theme was to explore the relationships between water and people through the medium of Kodu video games and Microsoft partnered with Mercy Corps, a nonprofit NGO that saves and improves lives during crisis, to provide background material to inspire the students in creating their story lines.
Announcing the winners of the two age brackets 9-12 and 13-18, Imagine Cup Competition Manager, John Scott Tynes, starts with:
WOW. That's the first thing I have to say.
and goes on to say:
Hundreds of creative young students from all over the world made really fun and surprising videogames ... inspired by the theme of water, our most precious global resource.
First place, in the younger age group was awarded to:
In this game the player has to destroy the sinister factory that is polluting the world, while finding life-giving water pools along the way and its young creator commented:
“The message I want to send is that we need to be careful not to pollute our water because it is so important to all life."
Peppy Waters Inc, by Nicolás Martín Zorzini, Argentina
An epic adventure which offers a sprawling landscape with multiple quests, secrets, and puzzles to solve won the equivalent prize in the older group.
The personal comment about it reads:
“I had to research water-related problems around the world and how to combine that information with a game. I found out a lot of alarming facts that I thought everyone should know, so I didn't just learn about game programming but also got into a worldwide issue.”
Robots figure in the other two winning games in the 9-12 age group. In Fight for Water placed second, the robot ruling class believes the lower-class robots are too weak and powerless to deserve their fair share of water. In a series of races and contests, the player must demonstrate that all are created equal and won the equivalent prize in the older group. Adam Husain, from Oman says “My game shows the importance of sharing precious natural resources such as water in a fair manner.”
In third place comes Pollution Destroyer, a series of contests in which robots compete to sweep up the most pollution. Its designer Karim Bastami of Egypt explains “I just wanted to eliminate pollution to live in a better healthy world.”
Pollution is also the theme of the other winning games in the 13-18 age group. Mr. Alongkorn of Thailand who came second commented:
“This challenge is a chance for more practice and more experience. Try to join this! You can get inspiration, creativity, and commitment to make good work.”
Third place winner Anh Vo of United States also referred to the opportunity afforded by the challenge:
“I'm thankful to Imagine Cup for this opportunity because it will motivate me to do better in the future and invest more time and effort into my projects.”
A major aim of the Kodu Challenge was to encourage the next generation of students into computer science as part of the current initiative to address the shortage of STEM graduates so these responses are encouraging.
The announcement of the 2013 Kodu Challenge Winners concludes with the news that it will return next year.
If you want to play the winning entries download the Kodu Game Lab and find the games in the Community section labeled "Imagine Cup 2013".