Meet the Winners: Aaron Gaudette

Aaron Gaudette was the winner of the High School Open Platform category of the 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge. His game, Crystal Physics, was designed in Unity.

Aaron Gaudette describes himself as a musician, technologist, and game developer. These disciplines are united by a common theme: he taught himself all three.

AaronGaudette_AFCEA_RamsteinTechExpo_2013Aaron, 16, is a senior in high school. He has moved nine times in his young life, part of being a “military child” as he describes it. He credits his military upbringing with exposing him to life-changing opportunities. “I have had the ability to travel and experience new cultures, and I have learned how to adapt to change and what it means to serve.”

And serve he does. Aaron gives back to his community as an Eagle Scout and by playing jazz piano for community organizations such as the USO and the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as in his youth group praise band. Occasionally he gets hired to play at local restaurants and private parties.

As the leader of his high school’s STEM club, he’s currently designing a modular robotics system using a 3D printer.

Aaron enjoys these opportunities to expose himself to new cultures and ideas. “I am really passionate about these activities. There is always more to learn and ways to contribute and serve.”

But game design and computer programming are his core passions. Like many of our winners, he got started designing games at a young age, “making pen and paper, stat-based, roleplay and strategy games.” At age 11, Aaron began designing his first video games. He taught himself modeling and animation and then “discovered the joys of coding in C.”

Crystal Physics by Aaron Gaudette

Screenshot of “Crystal Physics” by Aaron Gaudette

When he was 12, Aaron developed his first iPhone app, and ever since, he says, “Game development has been my journey and I have grown tremendously.” Eager to share his passion with others, he has begun teaching a class on game technology at his high school. “Video game development is a very important field and has become increasingly significant in the last few years.” He wants his classmates to be able to reap the creative and technical rewards of learning to program.

He loves that through game design he can “give people an experience I created, let them explore worlds I have designed, tell someone a story, teach them, let them go beyond the bounds of what I have developed and let them create something themselves. I believe video games are an art form.”

Aaron’s process is unquestionably artistic. Game design lets him combine his skills in graphic design, 3D modeling, programming, modding, and audio editing. He makes all of the art for his games and picks up new skills “just through my interest or through the necessity for developing video games.”

Although Aaron had been designing independent games for five years, he first learned of the STEM Challenge from one of his favorite science teachers (who is also his STEM club adviser). “I instantly decided to participate – because I love making games!”

Aaron’s entry, Crystal Physics, is a 3D physics puzzle game. The player attempts to destroy a crystal by knocking down a tower using a ball called a “glowsphere.” As the game gets harder, players are introduced to new physics concepts that can inform how they attack the crystal.

From the start, Aaron knew that he wanted to create an educational game. “I thought about how I could connect an aspect of STEM with an educational game, and I came up with the science of physics – trajectories, vectors, and falling objects.” The trajectories and vectors are naturally embedded into game-play, providing a seamless learning experience. Aaron’s ability to teach through game-play is inspiring.

With so many skills and so much ambition, Aaron may have his choice of careers when it comes time to choose. But fortunately for the game lovers amongst us, he hopes to stay an independent game developer. “I would like to make the world a better place through video games by creating and innovating something that has never been seen before.”

We’re excited to see where Aaron’s trajectory leads him. If you want to learn more about his independent games, please visit his website at www.fugudev.net.