Awards announced for the Future Game Designer Challenge – Victor Valley High School Students Place First in Women Designed Edutainment Games and High School Edutainment Games Division.  

Olathe Kansas June 4, 2013 – The Support Learning Foundation (SLF) announced the Women Designed and High School Division winners of the 7th Annual Future Game Designer Challenge, a competition for middle and high school students to create the next generation of edutainment games. A team from Victor Valley High School’s Video Game Design class made up of Dania Judeh, and Cali Cooley created an educational game called Apple Mayhem. The team of Daniel Alcala, Darrin Richards, Michael Lucas, and Ramon Barbosa created an educational game called Space Escape. This is the first time a school has won both the Women Designed and High School Division in the same year. The students learned of their win today in a video conference that included Denise Roderick (teacher), Chris Douglas (VVHS Principal) and Steve Waddell, the founder of I Support Learning, Inc (the creator of the competition).

This year’s competition drew competitors from all over the US. Middle and High school students created a wide array of engaging games to teach students a variety of topics including: Math, Marine Biology, Medicine, History and Space. All of these games had three main things in common. The first is they are fun to play. Secondly, they engage learners in active learning, and third they support state learning standards.

“We want students to be creative.” Commented Steve Waddell the foundation’s founder; “We tell the challengers that the first thing you have to worry about in getting a student to learn, is to get them engaged. So, this competition has students creating games that draw the player in. Once engaged the game must be designed to have the player interact with the concepts and learn.”

“This is our 7th year and once again we all were very impressed with the games that were submitted this year to the FGDC. As soon as I saw Space Escape I knew it was going to be a winner,” said Donna Goodman who helped with the game reviews. “This is not Denise’s first time to have a winning team. In 2010 Victor Valley High had an all women team that won first place in the Women Designed Games division and in 2012 VVHS took first place in the High School Division.

“This competition has so many benefits. My students get to see that they can create tools to help others learn and grow. This wasn’t something they did for a grade, or for me, but a game to help someone else learn. Getting the chance to see how their creativity and work compares to others through this national competition gave the project an extra edge of excitement,” said Denise Roderick “My students now have proven that they know how to work on a team, one of the most important soft skills someone can have in today’s world.  Another invaluable skill that is inherent to Video Game Design is problem solving, consequently the students learn this in spades.  I’m just so proud of them and how they didn’t give up.“

“Wow – what else can I say – Victor Valley High School continues to grow their 3D video game design program and they are becoming the school to beat with great designers and competitors” continues Steve Waddell. “The judges and I were very impressed with their two games Apple Mayhem and Space Escape. Apple Mayhem has the learner engaging how computers do math in a very story-centered fun way. Space Escape has the learner moving through a ship in space and using math skills to escape. You really have to be impressed with their instructional design elements. This competition shows the validity of having students create games to help teach other students or Peer Created Games. Time and time again in the Future Game Designer Challenge we see students rise up to the challenge and make useful edutainment games. Games that are worthwhile and fun. Games that teach. Think about the power of having games created by students for students. It is what our competition is all about – learners as creators”

As part of the competition students had to turn in a developers log, document their code, show how their game helped meet state and national learning standards, create marketing materials like posters, cd cases, cd labels. They had to create an engaging storyline and then make the game and game play support the story concept. All this while making sure their games had real educational value. Steve Waddell the founder of I Support Learning, Inc. and one of the judges stated. “One purpose to this competition is to get students to take responsibility to help the next generation. It is why our competition is about creating edutainment games. It is fun to see what happens when you give students the keys to the car, so to speak, and let them drive the game to whatever destination they choose.”

The students learned their game design skills through an innovative career simulation curriculum created by I Support Learning, Inc. Denise Roderick uses the Video Game Design course as a way to introduce students to programming via a highly interactive career simulation that makes learning math, language, science, technology and 21st century skills very engaging to the digital native. To the learner the course is an interactive role-play game that looks and feels like a real high-tech internship. Students come into the class with little or no programming skills and leave with their own 3D video game. Denise has been using the ISL’s Video Game Design career themed course since 2007.

“We were very fortunate in our sponsorship team this year. We have a number of other sponsors including Web Professionals Organization, ITWomen.org, The Engineering, Computer Science and Technology Department at Cal State LA, the Instructional Design Department at Emporia State University and I Support Learning, Inc.