Today we are announcing the winners of the first U.S. Kodu Cup. It’s a competition that challenged kids across the United States (from the age of 9 to 17) to use Kodu – a free game development tool from Microsoft – to create their own video game for the chance to win great prizes and the chance to attend the Imagine Cup World finals in New York City in July.
Kodu was created by FUSE labs in Microsoft Research to help children learn how to use computers while developing useful skills such as problem solving, creative thinking and planning in a fun and engaging way. Kodu is proving to be a great tool for fostering children’s interest in exploring a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The U.S. Kodu Cup surprised us. As Brad Gibson, a senior program manager with Microsoft Research observed:
“These kids, frankly, did things in Kodu that I hadn’t thought of before. Kids had zombies and fantasy worlds, monsters and infective diseases, mythical heroes – there was just this incredible variety. On one hand you say, ‘Hey, they’re kids, you expect a lot of imagination.’ But when you see the depth of gameplay and the richness of the stories they created, I think many of these kids could be on their way to being world-class game designers.”
So without any further ado, onto the winners.
Grand Prize Winner (9-12 year olds category) – Hannah Wyman
Hannah is 10 years old and lives in Leominster, Massachusetts. Her game is called Toxic, and players collect coins and hearts while solving puzzles to help save the environment. In Hannah’s own words: “My game is about how the environment is getting polluted, and we need to help shut the factories down and cause less pollution.
First Prize Winner (13-17 year olds category) – Jacen Sherman
Jacen is 15 years old and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. His game is called The Vortex. It’s a beautiful looking game which opens with the world under nuclear attack. While humanity has found a way to “upload” itself to a virtual world and launch into space to avoid extinction, one of the creators of this virtual world wasn’t able to make it into the virtual world on time. Out of anger, she unleashed a virus – Vira X – which the player must defeat. Jacen was inspired both by the programming experience, and by the movie Tron.
First Prize Winner (9-12 year olds category) – David Gardiner
David is 9 years old and lives in Leominster, Massachusetts – clearly a future hotbed of games development! David, draws comics about aliens and he took part in the competition following encouragement from his teacher. His game is called Alien Attack where the Galactaliens are trying to take over the world and you have to stop them. It is a delightfully whimsical world with fish swimming in a bowl-less pond, flowers growing in strange places and enemies, and submarines bobbing in what looks like a floating island of lava.
The grand prize winner receives $5,000 for themselves and their respective school, as well as a trip to the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in New York. The Imagine Cup is a global technology competition for students in over 100 countries. The grand prize winner also wins a Toshiba Windows laptop, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 and an Xbox 360 console with a Kinect sensor.
The first prize winners receive a Toshiba Windows laptop with Microsoft Office Home & Student.
The consensus among the members of our judging committee was that the creativity demonstrated by all the entries in this first U.S. Kodu Cup competition was outstanding. When you combine that creativity with the hard work and dedication evidenced in all the submitted games, choosing the winners was a very difficult process.
On behalf of all the judges we’d like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate everyone who took part in the competition. Well done!
You can read more about the winners on the Microsoft News Center.
More information on Kodu and STEM education
A note on sensible, safer gaming.
Microsoft is committed to helping families enjoy video games and online media in ways that are safer, healthier and more balanced. As part of this commitment we have created Get Game Smart.
GetGameSmart.com brings the most current parental controls tools, expert tips and resources together online, including the latest information on updated Xbox 360 Family Settings. This website offers a variety of resources in one place where parents and caregivers can find valuable information to make educated decisions about balanced media use. The site helps parents and kids to work together on fun activities and quizzes that will improve their knowledge about gaming and online safety, and help them create household agreements for media use …along with easy ways to enforce them! GetGameSmart.com also provides tips and information from the nation’s leading experts and organizations, and features its own blog to provide families with up-to-date information on the latest video game and Internet safety topics. The Get Game Smart program is a new approach to helping parents and their children get on the same page about making smart media choices.
Microsoft is proud to have led the effort to create and build in safety measures that enable parents to choose the right games, content and online access settings for their families. Xbox was the first video game and entertainment system on the market with built-in parental control systems. Virtually all of Microsoft’s consumer products- Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE, Windows 7, Zune and MSN/Windows Live – feature family safety features.