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Creativity the winner in student video game coding challenge

Media release 5 minute read

9 October 2019: Melbourne, Australia: The results of the 2019 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge have been announced and winners will be awarded at a ceremony at gaming convention PAX Aus in Melbourne this weekend (11-13 October).

Nearly 3000 students in Years 5-12 from schools around Australia entered the competition to design and build an original video game. Winners in six categories defined by age group and platform are detailed below.

The annual challenge aims to engage students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. It is managed by the ACER Foundation, a charitable organisation underwritten by the Australian Council for Educational Research, and Foundation Director Lisa Norris said this year’s entries explored the theme of emergence in varied and inspiring ways.

“We know that educating students in STEM subjects will help prepare them for the economy of the future, but the research also shows that STEM education teaches associated skills like collaboration, problem-solving, literacy and creativity,” Ms Norris said. “All those skills were evident in our 2019 entries but creativity in particular flourished this year.

“The winning teams really interpreted ‘emergence’ in interesting and imaginative ways.”

Team EVL Games from St Anthony’s School in WA created Locked Up, a Year 5-8 category winner, which follows the attempts of its young heroine Jade to ‘emerge’ from jail after being wrongfully imprisoned. Fellow Year 5-8 category winners Team Gameon from NSW’s Balmain Public School explored the concept of emergent forms in Game Saver, in which a player morphs between physical forms and environments with the help of a magic potion. In the Year 9-12 group, the team from Queensland’s St Patrick’s College, The Obtuse Rail Cars, help players create new cities – or emergent nations – in their game Poly City.

L-R: screenshots from Game Saver, Locked Up and Poly City

A recent report from the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association report with Bond University called ‘Digital Australia 2020: The Power of Games’ found that even mainstream entertainment games such as Minecraft are used by educators to improve the learning experiences of their students – evidence, Ms Norris said, of the power of games to motivate and inspire learners.

Team mentor and teacher Ben Wynne from St Anthony’s School in WA is celebrating his second win in consecutive years. Mr Wynne said it could be hard to keep students motivated but the end result was its own reward.

“Building a game from scratch is a daunting prospect for many students but the pay-off is seeing their vision eventually come to life,” Mr Wynne said. “It’s especially rewarding for them to see players road-testing the game they created on the stand at PAX Aus.”


Winners of the 2019 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge:

Years 5-8: Playable game – Open category

Locked Up, Team: LEV Games (Emily Freeman, Veronica Walters and Lesay Asefa; St Anthony’s School, WA)

Years 5-8: Playable game developed in GODOT

Sheep Doggo, Team: Hunter Burfitt (Hunter Burfitt; Brentwood Secondary School, VIC)

Years 5-8: Playable game developed in Scratch

Game Saver, Team: Team 1(Asha Sutton, Zoe Allen, Andrei Leed, Laila Chopra; Balmain Public School, NSW)

Years 9-12: Playable game – Open category

Speciation, Team: Will (Wil Linder; Arndell Anglican College, NSW)

Years 9-12: Playable game developed in GODOT

Roomscape, Team Nimblebonk Clan (Christopher Stevens, Connor Mart, Hugo Kuang, Mitchell Wilson; Wirreanda Secondary School, SA)

Years 9-12: Playable game developed in Unity & Unreal

Poly City, Team: The Obtuse Rail Cars (Jack May, Matisse Billing, Oliver Murray, Tobias Lightfoot; St. Patrick’s College, QLD)

Winning games will be available to play on the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge stand at PAX Aus, one of the largest video gaming conventions in the world, at the Melbourne Convention Centre from 11-13 October as part of Melbourne International Games Week. An awards ceremony will take place at the convention at 12pm on Saturday 12 October in the Kookaburra Theatre, followed by a panel discussion featuring winners and a range of top gaming industry experts.

Challenge sponsors and supporters include BigAnt, Creative Vic, IGEA, Roccat, Scienceworks and PAX Aus, as well as universities, corporate partners and game developers.

Notes to media:

  • Links to playable versions of winning games are available on request.
  • Winners and representatives from the ACER Foundation will be available for interview before and during PAX Aus.
  • Registrations for the 2020 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge open in early 2020. For more information, visit


Media enquiries: ACER Communications | 03 9277 5582 | 0419 340 058 |

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