Students spend summer making - not playing - video games

Posted: August 13, 2014

Instead of wasting their summers, say, playing video games, 11 area teens spent it learning how to make video games. The games were entirely original. One was even unique to Philadelphia.

Running For Office stars Mayor Nutter, in a business suit, running through the city's streets jumping over attacking black cats while trying to avoid a green dinosaur right on his heels.

The game was one of two created with the help of PHL Collective, a local independent game company, in an unusual summer partnership.

For five weeks, PHL Collective's six employees spent 31/2 hours each Friday with the students, all rising juniors at area high schools, teaching them the ropes.

The teens knew they liked video games, said Nick Madonna, PHL Collective's founder, but when they arrived they had no idea how to make them.

"It's like, you love a car, but you look under the hood and you're like, 'What is this?' " he said.

The students were divided into two teams - Team Titan and Team Olympians - and they soon learned making a video game was not as hard as they thought it would be. Still, they had to come up with a concept, and then create their own art, music, and programming.

Gianni Oglesby, a 16-year-old from the School of the Future who created the soundtrack that accompanied Nutter's run, said she thinks the mayor would be a fan of the game.

"I think he would like it - and probably play it," Oglesby said.

Their efforts concluded Friday with a public presentation of the games at Dave & Buster's just north of Penns's Landing.

Oglesby was one of the few students who put her stage fright aside and spoke to the crowd about her game, explaining the thinking behind certain elements.

The idea to include the mayor in the game came from Edison High's Adonnys Rivera. At first, the 16-year-old said, the team thought about making the president the subject of its game.

But then he proposed making it more Philly-specific and suggested using Nutter.

Rivera worked on the art for his team's game, specifically the purple cityscape background and a scene with a cow jumping over the moon.

Team Olympians created a game called Olympian Soccer, in which a goalie darts left and right trying to block the gamer's shot. The idea was inspired by the recent World Cup competition won by Germany.

Team Olympians also wanted to create an athletic game because each one of them plays a sport.

Diamond Thomas, a 16-year-old from High School of the Future, plays soccer and softball. She said learning how to make video games was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I feel really lucky that I got a chance to do this program," she said.

Madonna said he believed Nutter would not be offended by his starring role in running for office and would appreciate the project because of its educational aspects.

"Hopefully, he doesn't want royalties," he joked.


CFabris@phillynews.com

215-854-5607 @CaseyFabris


To check out the games, go to http://gearupgamejamphl.com.

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