Reloaded and Ready: Game Design Contest Returns

ATEC Competition Offers Students Experience, Collaboration and Cash Prizes

In a tight job market, college students seek ways to distinguish themselves from a sea of applicants, such as completing internships or earning awards for their college work.

They can add a fully functional computer game, business plan and cash award to their portfolios if they win the Second Computer Gaming Entrepreneurship Competition (CGEC).

The Arts and Technology (ATEC) program of the School of Arts & Humanities is holding the competition, which runs through the spring semester.

Working in teams of three to eight, students from across the University can gain demonstrable experience in innovation, business development and marketing, as well as technical proficiency in game development and production. Because of the comprehensive nature of a complete submission, teams are encouraged to have members with different skill sets and strengths.

“Optimally, each team will have artists, programmers, writers, sound designers, business and marketing managers, and of course game designers,” said Dr. Monica Evans, ATEC professor and competition coordinator. “Students will nearly always fill more than one role. Game development is necessarily a collaborative art, and it really shows when two or three people with wildly different artistic vision come together to create something truly unique.”

Changes to this year’s competition include a bigger pot of prize money, totaling $50,000, which will be split among the top three teams: $10,000 for first place, $7,500 for second place and $5,000 for third place.

A special award of $1,000 will be given to the team chosen by funding sponsor Kingdon Hughes of Hughes Ventures as having the most innovative game concept and business plan. Remaining funds will be used to assist the winning team in launch-ready completion of its game, under the guidance of UT Dallas faculty members and industry veterans.

The competition also will benefit from the creation of an advisory board, which will aid winning teams in launching their games. Board members will be chosen from UT Dallas faculty, Hughes Ventures staff and current game industry leaders in the Dallas area.

Interested students are encouraged to attend CGEC Orientation Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. in ATEC 1.606. Last year’s winners will present a brief recap of their game concepts and give advice to new competitors. Students will have the opportunity to find team members and ask questions about the competition.

“I cannot stress enough how huge of an opportunity the CGEC presents for would-be game designers,” said Benjamin Campbell, who placed second with team Fret Sensei last year. “You won’t find a better chance to live the dream of growing your own game concept to fruition anywhere else.”

The deadline to sign up for this year’s competition is Oct. 3 at CGEC Registration, held from 5 to 7 p.m. in ATEC 1.606. Attendance at this meeting is required to be officially registered in the competition.

After three benchmark sessions during the development process, each team will submit their game and business plan Friday, April 3, 2009, to a panel of judges. Entries will be evaluated on quality, innovation and how well the product works.

“As best we can determine, this is the largest prize offered by a university-run gaming competition,” said Evans. “Even completing a project of this sort requires a huge amount of passion and dedication from each team, and the rewards for the winning teams are just astonishing. It’s an amazing experience; there’s really nothing else like it on campus.”

The competition is sponsored by Hughes Ventures, The University of Texas at Dallas, The Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering and The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. For more information about the competition or how to register a team, contact Dr. Monica Evans at 972-883-4332 or visit the CGEC competition Web site at