Got Game: Wayzata High School Video Game Design Finalists

Joe Kottke and Ingrid Sund

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Joshua German’s Super Star Crusade

  According to STEM Fuse, “Got Game” is an annual game design competition. Students from fifth to twelfth grade can submit video games designed using Construct or Scirra.
  In the 2018 competition, three Wayzata High School Students were named finalists: Freshman David Stafford, Senior Joshua German, and Freshman Benjamin Chu.
  Stafford designed The Machine, German designed Super Star Crusade, and Chu designed Shots Fired.
  Stafford began game design in fourth grade: “my mom wanted me to be active over the summer, so she sent me to a game design camp where I learned the basics of GameMaker Studio,” said Stafford. “Ever since then, I’ve been using that program to make games for fun.”
  According to Chu, the competition was made known to the boys after their participation in the class Intro to Game Design, taught by Michelle Jacklitch.
  Stafford said, “After working on a project in my free time, I thought that it would be a great thing to submit.”
  “The competition was something I went for after I developed the game [Shots Fired],” said German.
  According to Stafford, the competition was lacking. “I’m most proud that there are no bugs or glitches in my game,” said Stafford. “In all of the other games, the glitches are very prominent.” When checking out the highest scoring game, Stafford reported that he wasn’t even able to complete it because it was so buggy.
  Stafford describes the overall look of his entry, The Machine, as a retro-type game that could be found on older consoles.   “The overall play style is influenced by ‘rage games’ like Super Meat Boy or The End Is Nigh,” said Stafford.
  According to Stafford, the process of programing a game can range from four days to six months, depending on the complexity of the game. Stafford said that he draws inspiration from Super Metroid by Nintendo for the majority of his games.

David Stafford’s The Machine

  According to Stafford, it’s important to try developing multiple genres of games.
  “I’ve made a lot of different versions of games, such as turn based RPGs, platformers, and shoot ‘em ups,” said Stafford. “Once you have done a bunch of different kinds of games, you can find out which types you like, and focus on them.”
  German said, “Keep it simple, Don’t overdo things, and go one piece at a time.”
  Although the competition rules require the game to be designed using Construct or Scirra, many of the competitors have experimented with other modes of design.
  “I started using Blender for 3D Modeling after taking programming classes over the summer,” said German.
  According to Stafford, he begins new projects by jotting ideas down and thinking about how it could translate into a program. “Rinse and repeat,” said Stafford. “Jot it down and experiment with it until you create something you’re proud of, then you just do it again.”
  “I have designed around 20 games, but have only released The Machine,” said Stafford.
  “I like making ARPGs, which is top down and usually has pixel art. You just play as a character that runs around the screen and fights things or sometimes they can be puzzle solving type games,” said Stafford.
  Game designers also design the art of their games. Stafford explained that even before he started game design he would draw pixel art in Microsoft Paint.
  According to Stafford, a lot of projects don’t end in success, but when they do, you continue to work on them.
  It is important that students experiment with game design, especially as technology and coding becomes more prominent: “Not only is it great learning, but also a great way to make a profit!” said Stafford.

To try playing their games, go to

Benjamin Chu’s Shots Fired