A paladin out to destroy Dracula? A parrot stranded on an island of monsters? Or how about a duck in a daring adventure through the city sewers?
These ideas took center stage at the LaPIXEL Academy graduation where campers celebrated their newly learned skills of creating and designing their own video games.
High schoolers dabbled in everything from video game storytelling to character and environment design in the four-week camp.
“LaPIXEL Academy participants performed the challenging task of creating their own video games in only a month,” said director Allen Garcie, who guided students through the seventh annual academy. “This begins as an individual process whereby they start developing their own stories and characters.
“In the middle of the program, the participants pitch their game ideas and collectively vote on their favorites.
Fifteen participants graduated from the program this year, forming five different studios of three people each.
Once ideas are voted upon and the studios formed, the groups work frantically together over the final two weeks to create their video game.
“There’s a series of tight deadlines which the campers must meet, so these important skills like time management and collaboration will apply to whichever field they choose to work in the future,” Garcie said. “Other skills like storytelling, character development and (Adobe Photoshop) may appear to only apply to digital arts, but they have a lot of value in fields like literature and advertising among many others.”
Each studio presented their video games to family and friends.
Crystal Studios (Asher Pauly, Makinna Meredith, and Layla Strickland) created the game Crystal Cove, which is the parrot who’s stranded on an island of monsters. This studio won the best collaboration award.
The studio Dual Guitarfish Aggregate (Donna Turner, Amarna Golston and Gabriel Martin) came up with Final Shift, a game centering around government-funded medical research. This studio captured the best graphics/art award.
Quackwater Studios (Drayden Webb, Siva Saikolappan and Ariv Kohli) forged the game Doug the Duck, who must brave the city sewers. Webb took home the best character honor.
Enchanted Studios (Ely Sittenauer, Anna Glawe and Thomas Awagu) created Regz’s Return, an adventure game filled with magic, superhuman abilities and sibling rivalry. Sittenauer won the best code master award. The studio also won the best mechanics honor.
Entwined Light Studios (Landon Mitchell, Bella Hood and Testimony Okoh) designed The Light Within about a paladin that’s hunting Dracula and his minions. Hood captured the pixel perfect award.
“There’s nothing like watching each participant start with a singular idea that becomes a working video game,” Garcie said. “Watching students grow in their creative abilities while collaborating and supporting one another is something to behold.
“No matter how finished their games are, there’s nothing like seeing them doing something extraordinarily challenging in such a short period of time. Designing video games isn’t easy, and these students work better than most adults when it comes to collaboration and being dedicated to a common goal.”
Registration for the 2024 LaPIXEL Academy will begin in the spring and is open to kids 13-17. Applications are accepted at lapixelacademy.com.
Garcie was joined by LSUS personnel Vikki Hrody (digital arts), Eliana Gafford (computer science major) and James French (digital arts graduate).
The program is sponsored by LaPREP and is offered at no cost to the participants. LaPREP is a free math and science summer enrichment program at LSUS that’s funded by grants and generous sponsors.