New game designer Hannah Wyman won a trip to New York, got a grant for her school, educated kids, and met the President of the United States. And she managed it all around her dance lessons and her homework, because she's eleven years old.
We may keep seeing the same old arguments over whether games are destroying childrens' minds, but Hannah's story highlights the other half of the discussion. She took the grand prize in Microsoft's first Kodu Cup, a competition that challenged American kids ages 9-17 to create a game using Microsoft's kid-friendly Kodu development tool.
Her 2011 victory coincided nicely with the Obama administration's push for enhancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States. As a result, she was invited to the White House science fair and was one of 30 students able to demonstrate her project directly to the president.
Her game, Toxic, has an environmental theme. The bubbly blue little avatar travels around its city zapping pollution and collecting coins and apples, and gaining points for planting trees and convincing NPCs to do the same. While the look and the mechanics are all very simple, the gameplay video shows that they work well and manage to be both entertaining and informative.
Hannah may or may not grow up to work in game design, and indeed her future is wide open and far off. But her story can remind us that games really are for everyone, and inspiration is everywhere.
Thanks for the tip, Nick!
11-Year-Old Girl Programs Game, Puts All To Shame [The Jace Hall Show] 11 Year-Old Kodu Cup Winner Honored at White House [Kodu Game Lab Community]