Angel Martinez-Acevedo has got game — video game, that is.
Martinez-Acevedo, a student at DeRidder Junior High School, was announced a winner of the 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge, a competition that seeks to motivate an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among students in grades 5-12 by tapping into their enthusiasm for playing and creating video games.
Winners were announced in 14 categories – seven for the middle school level (grades 5-8) and seven for the high school level (grades 9-12). Sixteen students from among 4,000 entrants were chosen as the best of the best for creating original, challenging, and fun video games in one of seven game-programming platforms — Gamemaker, Gamestar Mechanic, Kodu, Construct 2, Scratch, Multimedia Fusion 2 (team), and Written.
Martinez-Acevedo was a first-time entrant with his Gamestar Mechanic entry, “The Arcade.” He created the game as a sixth grade student in Maria Sanchez’s math class.
“The Arcade acts just like an arcade,” Martinez-Acevedo said. “There are different mini-games within the game, and the player selects which game he or she wants to play first, second, and so on — just like in an arcade.”
The Arcade can be accessed at There are 20 mini-games within the game, all on time limits, and the player must beat each mini-game to win.
“Angel had to come up with the idea for each of the 20 games within 'The Arcade,' decide his goal for each game, and construct the layout and details for them,” Sanchez said. “The process takes a great deal of creativity and uses all the aspects of STEM."
“Gaming is a closed system,” she said. “If one piece does not work, it all falls apart. Students must use complex problem-solving skills and logic in creating these games.”
Each national winner will receive an AMD-powered laptop computer along with game design and educational software. A cash prize will be awarded to Sanchez’s math class to help purchase more STEM-related activities. Sanchez hopes to provide her class with graphics tablets and robotics kits so they can continue hands-on STEM projects that stimulate creative, interactive learning experiences.
Martinez-Acevedo, now in the seventh grade, is already making plans to enter the 2014 National Video Game Challenge, and discussed learning a new video game design platform with Sanchez for the upcoming competition.
“I want to set a bigger challenge for myself this year,” he said.
In its third year, the 2013 National STEM Video Challenge attracted more entrants than ever before with more females participating and a wider diversity of participants from around the country, both urban and rural, and from US territories around the world. Students designed both educational and non-educational games.
The 2013 National Video Game Challenge was sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, E-Line Media, the Entertainment Software Association, AMD Foundation, Microsoft, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Hive Digital Medial Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust, BrainPOP, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Learning Games Network, and Edmodo.