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Games 4 Girls take undergrads to the next level

Claire Andrews, Michelle Den Hollander, Alice Hai, Shanti Mailvaganam, and Krista Odger; Games 4 Girls competition - Mathematics

These Waterloo computer science students won top prize in the Games4Girls competition for their girl-friendly game Alessa in Wonderland.

“We’re hoping that for the girls who get to see it, Alessa in Wonderland gives them the opportunity to say ‘Hey, they made something cool, maybe I can too.’ ”

Even if you make it past the ogres and jellyfish, you’ll still have to contend with the killer bunnies. Friendly advice from a team of five computer science undergrads whose game, Alessa in Wonderland, made it past an arguably bigger obstacle – being judged best in show by a panel of high school girls.

 

Waterloo students Claire Andrews, Michelle Den Hollander, Alice Hai, Shanti Mailvaganam, and Krista Odger are the winners of this year’s Games 4 Girls competition, hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  For their efforts programming, designing graphics, and even composing a retro backing track, the team takes home bragging rights, $2,000 in prize money and a $500 donation to their department.

 

From its formation at a meeting sponsored by Women in Computer Science to its final submission, the team only had four months to complete the project, on top of juggling a heavy academic load.  Lori Case served as faculty advisor.

 

The group’s hard work has already attracted attention from Google, where they recently demoed their award-winning game. Google has also encouraged the team to tour local high schools in the hopes of sparking interest in computer science. “Hopefully we'll be able to do some guest speaking or demoing,” says Odger. “That was really the purpose of the competition, to get high school kids interested, particularly female students.”

 

Mailvaganam agrees. “There’s a big feedback loop of women not playing games, so games are geared toward men, which means fewer women play. We’re hoping that for the girls who get to see it, Alessa in Wonderland gives them the opportunity to say ‘Hey, they made something cool, maybe I can too.’ 

 

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