for tomorrow

NMMU News

22/06/2015

Believing in their project and their passion for game development has not diminished after losing two team members, but their determination earned them a spot in the final of the Microsoft Imagine Cup in Seattle, USA, next month.

Jason Cross and Nick Jordaan of Team Digital Interactive Games (DIG) from the School of Information and Communication Technology  at NMMU started this project in 2014 as first year students and became the first 1st years ever to win the local leg of the Imagine Cup.

‘’We were committed to creating our own unique game for the market. And we will continue doing so no matter what,’’ says Jason.

Their project - "PYA" – will compete against teams from China, Malaysia, Nepal, Poland, Netherlands, Tunisia, Korea and the Netherlands in the games section of the competition.

‘’PYA Maze of Gods" is a 3D Labyrinth-style game built to challenge the user's problem solving skills, reaction time and their ability to overcome the obstacles that they will encounter. The game involves in-depth knowledge and character profiles. The name "PYA" is the name given to the realm of the gods,’’ says Jason.

The duo started planning their project early March 2014 – when they were still four members – and did all the work in their spare time, including learning the software needed to development their project.

‘’Upon entry, we first competed against other South African entrants. Once we reached the National Finals, there were three teams, including us, going into the World Semi-finals where we were up against all the other countries’ national winners. In the world finals there are nine teams in total, including us – so we compete against eight other teams.

‘’It is an amazing accomplishment for us, we would never have dreamed to have gotten this far. We are honoured to be representing South Africa in Seattle as the first games category finalists from our country,’’ says Nick.

No lecturers assisted them in the project, although their mentor, Prof Johan van Niekerk, gave them useful criticism on their project and helped them arrange venues to pitch the project as well as to acquire equipment that they needed.

Jason and Nick will be leaving Port Elizabeth for Redmond, Seattle on the 26th of July.

*The Microsoft Imagine Cup, a cornerstone of the Microsoft Youth Spark initiative, is the world’s premier student technology program and competition. It provides an opportunity for student technologists, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs from all academic backgrounds to collaborate, develop a technology application, create a business plan and gain a keen understanding of what is needed to bring a concept to market. At the Imagine Cup, the brightest young minds join together to exemplify the power of student innovation.

NMMU IT students Nick Jordaan (left) and Jason Cross.