A designer in many senses of the world, Janice Tran is the high school winner of the 2013 STEM Challenge Best Game Design Document.
Although she was a high school senior when she won, Janice is now a freshman in college where she is studying graphic design. She has been designing since she was young and hopes to harness this creative talent into a career in concept art design, either on a national or international level. And, like all of our winners, she loves to play games.
Janice’s passion for video games was developed through extensive gameplay with her family. Her favorite game, Super Smash Brothers Melee, involves “the many different characters I’ve been growing up with since my childhood.” This experience reminds her of the fun her family has when they play games together. Once a week, she plays a board game with her family and often they take turns using the family’s XBOX 360
She and her family spend a lot of time together outside of “game time.” As she describes, “my family is amazing and we love to sit down and eat dinner together to talk about our day.” The youngest of three, Janice loves to go fishing with her older sister and together they volunteer at marathons once a month and often run them as well.
It is this passion for healthy living that helped her create Little Green Planet, her winning entry and the first game she ever designed. In Little Green Planet, the player is a Paperboy/Girl and in a series of unfortunate events, responsible for saving the world from Pollutio. He is determined to stop the protagonist from “greening” the earth, and it is up to the player to learn how to use alternative and clean solutions. With the help of friends, the Paperboy/Girl works to create a sustainable robot to save the planet.
Janice spent a year finalizing her game’s storyline and the general structure. During this lengthy process her favorite part was designing the characters. “I loved making sure their personality could be seen through the design.” She found the most challenging part was “coming up with the mechanics and storyline for the game.” While she may have initially found the mechanics difficult to conceptualize, they eventually came together and presented an inspiring and artistic vision that we know has the potential to delight audiences.
Janice managed to combine her passions for design, experience playing with her family, and love of the environment into her game. She excelled by focusing on what she loves and has advice to future competitors based on this experience. “I would tell others to listen to their gut and use their creativity in order to get their ideas through.”
Her own gut has led her far, but Janice also had wonderful teachers and mentors that supported her and offered useful critiques. Knowing that oftentimes friends and observers comment on one’s work, she hopes that others can learn from their peers. “Don’t let others put you down, but when you get criticism on the game itself, make sure to take it into consideration.” Friends’ comments can be particularly helpful because “you know your game is good, when people in the target audience range group become interested in the idea of the game.”
Her final words of advice are for all students: “Creativity is important–don’t let anyone block it.” No one blocked Janice’s, and it has helped her gain the confidence to try new endeavors. She hopes that by following their heart, everyone can make something that resonates with them.