Excellent award for game development students

Karen Tay 07 Dec 2010 Comments

A group of students from New Zealand’s Media Design School have taken out the Excellent Student Winner prize at the 2nd Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF) China, known as the Sundance of the indie games industry.

Dead Steel – a futuristic alien shooter made for PC, was the final-year project of a team of students from Media Design School’s Graduate Diploma in Game Development, the only NZQA-approved tertiary qualification of its kind in New Zealand.

Game Development programming tutor Jon Booth, who was present at the Shanghai International Convention Centre to receive the award, said that the students had fierce competition in the finals from some of Asia’s top gaming schools.

“There were 283 games entered for the student category so this is a massive achievement for our students. Media Design School is the only tertiary institute in Australasia to have made the finals, and the Excellent Student Winner prize only confirms what we’ve known all along - that we’re one of the top game development schools in the Asia Pacific region.”

Media Design School graduate and Dead Steel project manager Paul Chambers, who was also present in Shanghai, said that he was glad the team got recognition for their hard work.

“I’m already proud of the game and the team, so this is just the icing on the cake. Dead Steel is the result of some great teamwork, so I’m really proud on behalf of the entire team,” says Chambers.

Dead Steel lead artist Xin Chen said that he was overwhelmed by the win.

“This prize just makes it all worthwhile in the end. It’s moments like this that you can almost forget all the hard work, sweat and sleepless nights that went into it – but we made it in the end.”

Game Development art tutor Mike Porter said that what made the team shine was how quickly they were able to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and adapt the game accordingly.

“Dead Steel is highly polished and has garnered the attention of gamers and professionals alike. When playing the game, you forget that these students had only 6 months to complete it. The game is incredibly fun and fast-paced. The effects and animation as well as the environment really immerses the player into intense gameplay. I found that it was sometimes difficult to stop playing so I could continue marking the project!” says Porter.

The IGF Awards China is held as part of the prestigious Game Developers Conference China, held 5-7 December 2010 at the Shanghai International Convention Centre. The award ceremony was held on the night of 6 December at the Pearl Hall in the convention centre.

This is the second time that Media Design School students have won a prize in the student section of the IGF Awards. In 2006, 12 students from the school won best game at the IGF Student Showcase in San Francisco.

Dead Steel team

Tutors: Jon Booth (programming) and Mike Porter (art)
Project leader/lead programmer: Paul Chambers
Lead designer: Russell Bakewell
Lead Artist: Xin Chen
Lead Programmer: Joshua O’Connor
Creative lead: Alex Rude
Programmers: Nicholas Christian, Sean Flannigan