2 teams place in top 4 at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012 finals

Two of the three UH teams competing in the Microsoft US Imagine Cup 2012 Finals placed third and fourth in the Windows Phone 7 Game Design and Xbox 360 Game Design categories, respectively. The cup was held from April 20 to 23 in Redmond, Washington.

Teams Wasabi Ninja, Zigers and Eager Beavers PC created games based on the theme where they had to
“imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.” Competitors were encouraged to address the United Nations Millennium Goals for 2015 in their projects.

“Imagine Cup was a great experience. This was actually my second time competing in the final,” said Patipol Paripoonnanonda, a member of Team Wasabi Ninja.

“With more than 131,000 students around the nation competing, I already felt fortunate enough that my team was chosen to be among the 22 teams to compete in the final round.”

Team Wasabi Ninja placed third in Windows Phone 7 Game Design and took home the $2,000 in prize money. In their game, players take on the role of “Phagy,” a nanomachine engineered specifically to destroy harmful materials in the water systems of developing countries.

Despite the outcome, I believe that we have one of the best game development curricula in the nation, whether to compare with schools like UCLA or CMU,” Paripoonnanonda said. “UH was the only university to have three teams accepted for the competition.”

Team Zigers placed fourth in Xbox Game Design, earning $1,000 for their accomplishments in creating a game called “Spillville” where the player commands a fictional organization charged with cleaning up severe oil spills.

The third team, Team Eager Beavers PC, competed in the Windows Game Design category. They designed a computer game that promotes educational awareness related to the future status of the ocean if current actions continue to harmfully affect its natural environment.

Research Assistant Professor and Teams Wasabi Ninja and Zigers mentor Chang Yun, teacher of the Interactive Game Development courses and mentor for three past years of UH game design teams, spent six to seven months working with the teams to ensure they would produce high quality games.

“I want to assure them that they are the top-tier teams,” Yun said. “I make sure they believe themselves to be some of the best and encourage them to push harder to earn the right to be the top in the nation or the world.”

Meanwhile, digital media developer and Team Eager Beavers PC mentor Jose Báez-Franceschi, instructor for the Game Art and Animation course, hopes his students’ achievements spark inspiration in other students.

“I hope that our students inspire other young people to see that game design and creation is not only fun and challenging, but can also be used to engage people and draw their attention to issues that are plaguing our society and our planet,” said Báez-Franceschi.

“Preparing for the Imagine Cup is a team effort, and, like every other year, I am proud to be part of this process and of all the teams that competed.”

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