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SMU graduate student team named finalist in national STEM Video Game Challenge

Educational Game Creators

David Vaught, Eden Simpson, James Brawley, Vicki Smith
National STEM Video Game Challenge finalists (l. to r.) David Vaught, Eden Simpson, James Brawley and Vicki Smith.

March 15, 2011

DALLAS (SMU) — A four-member team of Southern Methodist University (SMU) graduate students from The Guildhall at SMU heads to Washington D.C. as one of three finalists in the National STEM Video Game Challenge to pitch their newly created educational game. 

“We’re very proud of our Capitol-bound students,” said Peter Raad, executive director of The Guildhall at SMU.  “With a program as intense as ours, there is little time for pursuits outside of class projects; yet, these individuals determinedly harnessed their passion for both game development and education to undertake a significant project on their own.”

At stake is a share in the prize cash pool of $100,000 seed money and the chance to work with experts in marketing, distribution, publicity and research.

On March 29, team members will present Slime Garden to a panel of judges who will evaluate their game on criterion which includes: potential to reach underserved communities, originality, scalability, educational impact and gameplay.  The game teaches scientific methodology by incorporating experimentation and simulation.

Slime Garden was created by:  

  • Eden Simpson, team lead
  • James Brawley, programmer
  • Vicki Smith, game designer
  • David Vaught, artist

The inaugural competition, launched by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, whose leadership introduced television mainstay “Sesame Street” to the world, and E-Line Media, was inspired by President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign unveiled last fall. It is a complementary effort to promote learning STEM skills by leveraging the highly engaging nature of video games, and challenging developers across the nation to create the most innovative educational games for grade school children.

“The medium of video games merges STEM disciplines with imaginative storytelling, and an inherent consequence of playing good games is learning those same principles through the unfettered, natural interaction of gameplay,” explained Raad.  “A captive mind that is fully engaged has limitless potential to learn through experience.”

About The Guildhall at SMU

The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University is the premier graduate video game education program in the U.S. Many of the school’s founders are industry icons, and classes are taught by industry veterans. Since 2005, the program has graduated nearly 400 students, and alums work at more than 140 video game studios around the world, with several graduates now serving in leadership positions. SMU offers both a Master’s degree and a graduate Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in art creation, level design, and software development. For more information, please visit


News Media Contact:
Ron Jenkins
The Guildhall at SMU


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