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Georgia Tech Students Compete at ­.k. Video Game Competition

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Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreckage video game team

Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreckage team is comprised of (left to right) Andrea Benavides, Michael Strain, Andres Castro, Jeffrey Bernard and Nicolas Vasconcellos. Here they pose in front of game background designed by Vasconcellos.

Credit: Jennifer Tyner / Georgia Tech

A team of Georgia Tech students will soon be traveling to Scotland to design and build their video game, Milestone, as part of Dare to Be Digital, the United Kingdom's premier video games competition. The team, known as the Ramblin' Wreckage, is the first team from the United States to participate in the competition. It was selected to be one of 15 teams in this year's event out of more than 100 teams from 80 universities around the world.

The Ramblin' Wreckage is comprised of Andrea Benavides, Jeffrey Bernard, Andres Castro, Michael Strain and Nic Vasconcellos from both the College of Computing and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. The team will create a puzzle platform that will run on the mobile devices with the Android mobile operating system. The competition will take place at the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland. Their game is described on the Ramblin' Wreckage blog on the Dare to be Digital website.

Dare to Be Digital began as a local competition in 2000 and became an international competition in 2005. At this year's competition, students will be mentored by representatives from the BBC, Blitz Games Studio, Cohort Studios, Denki, Rare, Realtime Worlds, Rockstar North, Sega, Sony Computer Entertainment and Ubisoft.

Every year between June and August, students form teams of five and compete over 10 weeks to design a fully functioning video game prototype. At the end of 10 weeks, all the teams will gather at Dare Protoplay to showcase their work and be judged by industry experts. Dare Protoplay represents the most innovative design from emerging games artists and programmers and is open to the public to come and play the games.

"The game features a character that will be constantly moving forward, but by using the accelerometer in the phone, you're going to be able to change the direction of gravity, depending on how you tilt it," says Vasconcellos, who serves as an artist/designer on the team. "The character uses an umbrella to block things and fall more slowly. It will be free to play, but there will be a lot of extra stuff that you can buy and earn."

In addition, players will fuel their characters' ability to take steps in the game by walking in real time.

"We're going to design it so that every step you take in real life will correspond to steps you take in the game. So, if you have a certain number of steps set up and then you complete a level in a certain number of steps, you can get extra points," says Vasconcellos.

"It will also have a large social networking aspect," says Benavides, who serves as an artist on the team. "The players will be able to create levels and submit them for other players to play."

Georgia Tech's FutureMedia initiative was instrumental in helping the Ramblin' Wreckage become the first team from the United States to participate in Dare to Be Digital. In addition to holding two campus events designed to garner student interest, the initiative helped the teams manage their applications and presentations and even created a Facebook page so the teams could discuss their ideas with one another.

"Georgia Tech is delighted to be the first American university to participate in this exciting global competition," says Renu Kulkarni, executive director of FutureMedia. "We are proud our team has been selected to participate in this tough competition from entries around the world and we know this will be an exciting learning experience for them."

The Ramblin' Wreckage Twitter feed is at


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