John Ripple, 14, and John Korhel, 14, share a common love of math and video games. Building on their mutual interests, the Parker, Colorado-based friends produced The Cube’s Journey, a platform game that follows an artificially intelligent cube’s journey to freedom—battling enemies, avoiding traps, and collecting gold bars along the way. Together, they won the Team Middle School Open Platform award in the 2015 National STEM Video Game Challenge.
John Ripple’s initial inspiration for learning to program came from seeing his brother develop his own video game. When John Korhel heard about the STEM Challenge through their school’s librarian, the boys decided to team up and try their hand at building a game of their own based on the game Portal.
When he’s not gaming, John Korhel enjoys longboarding and web design. One of his biggest inspirations is Jason Silva, host of National Geographic’s Brain Games, a show that explores the secrets of the human mind. After high school, John Korhel hopes to study computer science.
John Ripple enjoys reading, hiking, investigating new topics on YouTube, and walking his dog in his free time. After high school, he plans to pursue his interest in STEM.
From the experience, John Ripple learned two important lessons. “I learned GameMaker, and that perseverance and determination pay off in the end,” he says. “If you get stuck on any type of problem, the Internet is a great resource.” John Korhel’s biggest takeaway was to plan effectively from the beginning. “Map out your ideas before you try to make them work,” he suggests. “You’ll see potential errors and ways to do thing more efficiently.”