William Smith sophomores Lisa Maticic, Franchessca Branlund, Meghan Cox, Katelyn Tyson and Sara Young recently were each awarded $500 for finishing in third-place at the 2008 Games 4 Girls contest, sponsored by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Their entry, a computer game called “Extreme Girl,” follows a young woman trying to get to a sleepover on the last day of the school but forced to participate in PE activities to make up for earlier absences. All of the entries were judged by a panel of middle and high school women. Under the tutelage of Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Stina Bridgeman, the William Smith team had three months to put together a computer game geared toward middle/high school girls. Experienced programming was not necessary to participate; Game Maker, a freely available, PC-based game development tool was used for the design. “The program we used is very user-friendly so it wasn’t necessary to have an abundant knowledge of programming experience,” says Maticic. “Each member of our team had at least one semester of computer science, and we were all concurrently taking another,” says Tyson. “Only two or three of us were in our third computer science class, but in creating the game, you really couldn’t tell who had taken more classes.”
The middle/high school judges scored each game based on fun, playability, creativity and technical achievement, and then the total scores determined the winner. Proving the strength of the mathematics and computer science program at HWS, this success has placed the Colleges alongside Arizona University, Ohio State University, Cornell University and others. “HWS is a small liberal arts college but we were still able to perform on the same level as universities with many more students,” says Maticic. “This success is important for HWS and especially for the math and computer science department,” says Cox. “We are a very small school, and I think that the more we promote computer science, the more people we can get involved in it. Making this game took a great deal of time and patience. Sometimes things didn’t go the way we expected and we needed to change plans. I learned how important it was to communicate with group members and work together by helping each other.”