Are you ready to travel the globe—digitally? In 15-year-old Sanja Kirova’s game Around the World, players have a chance to visit historical landmarks, discover different cultures, collect souvenirs, and even learn how driving rules vary in other regions. The Portage, Indiana resident won the Nat Geo Explore Game Design Document High School category of the 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge, her second winning game design document in the STEM Challenge. (Learn more about Sanja’s 2015 game design, Ezcape, here.) Commended by judges as “one of the most ambitious game concepts we’ve received,” Around the World was inspired by the work of various National Geographic photographers, as well as polar expedition photographer John Bozinov.
Sanja first learned about video game design through her local Boys and Girls Club, where she remains an active member. When she’s not creating games, Sanja enjoys drawing, reading, photography, and building robots. She encourages aspiring designers to prioritize simplicity, think carefully about different player perspectives during the design process, and to learn how to transform procrastination into productive pressure in order to get things done. “I’m still exploring the vast field of engineering,” says Sanja when asked about future plans. “However I do know I want to be a problem solver in the STEM field.”