Lexi Schneider is an artist, basketball player, and incredibly curious about the world around her…so curious in fact, that on her first foray into game design, she won the Best Written Middle School Game in the National STEM Video Game Challenge.
“Head of the Class,” a written entry, takes place in a virtual school where each level is a different animation, inspired by classic comic strips. After a brief video introduction, the player is challenged to solve puzzles within each comic strip. Lexi says that when she isn’t sketching or playing sports, she loves to read. “I love comics and decided to make one because it combines my two interests: reading and art.”
Lexi’s brother initially inspired her to enter the competition. “He has always been really interested in making games and I knew that he was going to enter the contest. As I watched him code it seemed really cool, and since I didn’t know how to do that, he suggested that I enter a Written game.” Not only did Lexi’s brother help her enter the competition, he provided help throughout the competition and “is really who got me through it!”
Once she realized she could enter a written game, Lexi began thinking of ways to combine what she was doing in school with her long-standing artistic drive. At school, Lexi began exploring digital art. “I’ve always loved art but I believe that the computer represents the future of art. I wanted to make sure I made a really visual game.” Eager to explore how technology could enhance her drawings, Lexi decided to use Flash to animate her ideas.
Supported by her brother, who introduced her the basics before the competition, Lexi found herself discovering tips and tricks and eventually teaching herself. This same problem-solving nature can be explored in Head of the Class, her winning game. Just as the player searches for clues in the game, “I looked for clues and tricks to make learning Flash fun!”
Entering the competition has encouraged Lexi to keep coding. “I got such a high from making a game that I decided to spend my summer learning java so I can make real games in the future. Winning was so exciting but there is so much more out there!” Lexi is drawing on her family support system to get started. In addition to her brother’s support, she is taking an online class that her mom found. Lexi also spent her summer in art, basketball and soccer camps.
The Cooney Center is excited that, with such a broad range of interests, Lexi is now considering a career in computers or graphics. Wherever she winds up, we can’t wait to see where her new coding skills take her.