Next generation gamers
The first ever NUST-MTC Game Design Jam has been created as a response to wanting to assist learners in performing well in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM)-related subjects.
The competition challenged learners with the task of designing and creating a prototype of a computer or board game, with the challenge of incorporating mathematics into the game and finding a creative way to promote MTC products as well.
In total, 34 teams from seven regions applied to participate, but only 10 teams managed to submit and present their games. The dynamic duo from Amazing Kids Private School and Academy, Berhane Tangeni and Shiimi Anongeni, emerged victorious with their game Don't Be Late! Konita Games.
“Our game Don't Be Late was about the character in the game who needed the player to answer math questions to get to school on time. The Game Design Jam was a great experience where I learnt a lot of skills while designing my game. It was a great opportunity for me to challenge myself to help solve a problem in our community. I received a lot of support in the competition from my mom, dad, siblings, cousins, friends and my computer teacher. I am also grateful that God helped me in my journey through this competition,” Tangeni said.
“The competition helped me to realise that there are many was to make a game that can involve education and help students learn. I will like to thank NUST and MTC for hosting this event and I will like to thank my friends, teachers and family for their support and, most importantly, my aunty for letting me know so I can be part of this competition,” Anongeni said.
“We want to expose learners to other career opportunities in the game development sector while ensuring that they solve tangible problems through innovation and creativity. The platform further aims to create a pool of experts who can pragmatically address social and economic problems through gamification in and for Namibia,” Gabriel Nhinda, an informatics lecturer at NUST, said.
“The NUST-MTC Game Design Jam wishes to create an opportunity for industry partners like MTC to raise service and product awareness among their clients though gamified service advertisements on different game platforms. This year, we focused on gamifying the National Institute for Educational Development’s (NIED) National Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary (NSSCO) mathematics curriculum,” he added.
The competition had a call for participation for schools, learners and parents to apply for participation. Upon the call for application closing, all participants were contacted with important dates that including training sessions.
Training sessions included basics of game design and how to create a compelling video facilitated by the Muhoko Society. “We also had a training session on presentation skills by Chubo Zeko from Zambia. For the competition, learners were not restricted to creating computer games but were allowed to create diverse types of games such as card games, board games or any other types of games, if they fit into the theme of solving mathematics, thus letting learners use their creativity to the fullest. All while they advertise MTC services and products through gameplay,” Nhinda added.
The judging of the games was done in two rounds. During the first round, the teams were split into three groups and judged by a panel of judges. The judges' composition was made up of a learner, math teacher, a judge from MTC, game designers and developers, industry experts, and some of NUST's stakeholders. This was done on 1 July.
“We initially wanted a top five to present to a panel of judges, however, we had a tie and ended up with a top six. The six qualifying teams presented on Friday, 2 July to a live online audience and a panel of judges. The top three teams received a monetary prize and a trophy. Don't Be Late! Konita Games came in first and received a prize of N$12 000. The Download placed second and won N$9 000 and Trigonometric Dash placed third and won a total of N$6 000.
The winners will be mentored further through the High-Tech Transfer Plaza Select (HTTPS).
“This was our first event, and the interest has been overwhelming. We saw that there is great need for these types of activities and we plan on making this an annual event. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NUST and MTC facilitated the partnership between the two entities. The MOU is a strategic partnership tool, specifically meant to challenge, innovate, disrupt and bringing about rapid development within the technology space of our country,” Nhinda said.