Can the imagination and creativity of a handful of students tackle some of the world’s biggest problems? Since 2003, The Microsoft Imagine Cup set out to prove to the world that the answer is yes! Starting with less than 1,000 entries in its first year, the competition recently boasted over 325,000 registered students in its 2010 competition.
Microsoft started this premier student technology competition to create a new way for students to make connections between people, information and world issues. The Imagine Cup finals have been held in such cities as São Paulo, Delhi, Barcelona, Paris and Cairo. The 2011 finale will be held in New York City in July of 2011.
The competition encourages students to create technological applications that support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These ambitious goals were agreed upon and designed by the top world leaders to facilitate massive efforts in assistance of the poorest communities in the world. Started in the year 2000, the United Nations hopes to achieve all of the MDGs by the year 2015.
In the past, the Imagine Cup has seen some thought provoking and creative game entries. Since it’s almost 2011 and the end of the first round is almost here, let’s take a look back at the past winners in the Game Design category to remember why this competition is so interesting to follow.
City Rain, 2008 winner
The Brazilian team, Mother Gaia Studio, created a puzzle game that is one part Tetris and one part SimCity with a focus on the UN Development Goal of Environmental Sustainability. The game offers a unique mix of various puzzle dynamics and encourages the player to make decisions and purchase upgrades based on an understanding of the city’s health and happiness.
The game was published by Ovolo Entertainment from Canada and you can download a free PC demo here.
Choice, 2009 winner
Levv IT Team, also from Brazil, created Choice, an interesting combination of strategy and arcade games. Choice attempts to tackle all the Millennium Goals at once, and it pulls real-world statistical information from the Millennium Development Goals Monitor to affect gameplay. While the game is competitive, it also rewards players with bonuses for collaborating and assisting other players.
Wildfire, 2010 winner
Team By Implication from the Philippines also created a game that addresses all MDGs. Wildfire takes the power of volunteerism and places it in a super crisp, minimalist package. The player runs around a city that is randomly generated and has to recruit citizens to help solve problems that appear on the map. This stylized game also features Twitter integration so you can keep up with the UN’s Twitter in real time.
You can download a demo on By Implication’s website.
We’re excited to have the 2011 Imagine Cup finals happening right here in New York CIty. The deadline for Round 1 is in March, so there is still plenty of time to register. To get a better idea of the dates and rules, head over to the Imagine Cup website.
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