Berhanne Wheeler, one of two winners of the first-ever High School Game Design Jam (HSGDJ) competition, said the event was a great experience, where he learnt many skills while designing his game.
Wheeler and Shiimi Anongeni emerged victorious with their game ‘Don’t Be Late’, scooping the first prize of N$12 000 out of 34 teams, comprising learners from Grades 8-12, as well as those improving their results at various colleges and schools.
The competition was held by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) Faculty of Computing and Informatics in collaboration with mobile giant MTC.
Held virtually under the theme ‘Gamifying Mathematics’, the competition challenged learners with the task of designing and creating a prototype of a computer or board game, with the challenge of incorporating mathematics into the game and finding a creative way to promote MTC products.
“Our game ‘Don’t Be Late’ is about the character in the game who needs the player to answer math questions to get to school on time,” explained Wheeler. He said the Game Design Jam was a great opportunity for him to challenge himself to help solve a problem in his community.
“I received a lot of support in the competition from my mom, dad, siblings, cousins, friends and my computer teacher. I am also grateful that God helped me in my journey through this competition,” he told Youth Corner.
Gabriel Nhinda, an informatics lecturer at NUST, said the initiative exposes learners to other career opportunities in the game development sector while ensuring they solve tangible problems through innovation and creativity.
“The platform further aims to create a pool of experts who can pragmatically address social and economic problems through gamification in and for Namibia,” he said.
Nhinda further said the Game Design Jam wishes to create an opportunity for industry partners like MTC to raise service and product awareness among their clients through gamified service advertisements on different game platforms.
“This year, we focused on gamifying the National Institute for Educational Development’s (NIED) National Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary (NSSCO) mathematics curriculum,” he added.
During the competition, learners were also mentored in aspects such as game design, effective video creation, pitching and presentation training sessions facilitated by the faculty of informatics staff, Muhoko students’ society and Chubo Zeko, a local software developer.
‘The Download’ game came second, followed by ‘Trigonometric Dash’, walking away with N$9 000 and N$6 000, respectively.
The winners will be mentored further through the High-Tech Transfer Plaza Select.