Guildhall team makes the finals of National STEM Video Game Challenge

A team from The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University is among the 12 finalist in this year’s Indie Game Challenge (IGC), making them eligible for awards and prizes worth more than $130,000.

DALLAS (SMU) — A four-member team of Southern Methodist University graduate students is headed to Washington, D.C., to pitch its newly created educational game. The students are Master’s degree candidates in The Guildhall at SMU; the game is one of three finalists in the 2011 National STEM Video Game Challenge.

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

“We’re very proud of our Capital-bound students,” said Peter Raad, founder and 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.”

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 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (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 SMU team members will present their game, Slime Garden, to a panel of judges on March 29. The panel will evaluate the game on criteria such as 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 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 US. Many of the school’s founders are industry icons, and classes are run by industry veterans. Since 2005, the program has graduated over 385 students and alumni are working at more than 120 video game studios around the world. Our program offers a Master’s degree in Interactive Technology and a graduate Professional Certificate.

For more information, visit The Guildhall website or download the informational brochure (.pdf)