The object of the video game seems simple enough. Put out as many fires as you can. But there’s a catch. Your water supply is limited so you have to work as quickly as you can. The quicker you work the more points you will score.
That’s the premise behind the award-winning video game prototype created by 2015 Montgomery College graduates Russell Allen and Chau Tran. They won first place in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Game Jam Water!
The “jam” is a competition where teams work quickly to develop game prototypes. Allen and Tran competed against student teams (K-16) from around the world to create a video game examining how climate change impacts water supply. “It’s a logical way to bring more science into our lives and engage in a creative exercise,” said Peg Steffan, education coordinator with NOAA’s National Ocean Service. Participants learned about both climate change and gaming through the competition.
An important component of Allen and Tran’s game concept is virtual reality; when the game is fully developed, users will adjust the fire hoses by moving their heads. Allen says he was encouraged to explore virtual reality at Montgomery College after hearing a guest speaker from the award-winning game developer, Bethesda Softworks, in one of Professor Deborah Solomon’s classes.
Solomon is Montgomery College’s gaming program coordinator. She says Allen and Tran have what it takes to succeed in a highly competitive industry. “From day one, I knew they were great students—full of positive energy, turning their work in on time, and going above and beyond to do a little extra, which is key in this industry,” she said.
Both Tran and Allen are continuing their gaming studies at the University of Baltimore (UB)—with whom the College has a strong transfer agreement. They will present their winning entry at a showcase at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in June.