The 2015 Imagine Cup sponsored by Korean Microsoft, is a competitive technological exhibition that evaluates unique ideas in each games, innovation, and world-citizenship. In the Korean Imagine Cup held in Chung-Ang University in March, Team JY6 from Ajou University won first prize and was even selected to represent Korea at the 2015 Imagine Cup World Final in Seattle. Team JY6, which competed in the game division with their own creative game, “Lynn: A Girl into Puzzle”, was entirely composed of Ajou University students majoring in Media Technology.
The Ajou Globe(The AG): Did you have any particular purpose or motivation for creating Team JY6 and to participate in the Imagine Cup?
JY6: Initially, Ko Seong-jin, the JY6 team leader, was doing a media course project. He assempled a group of brilliant students interested in games, drawn from media classes and club activities. The team consisted of Ko Seong-jin, Lee Joo-hee, Lee Pil-soo, and Huh Gun. Each member of JY6 had excellent skills and we all gave each other feedback in an open and receptive team atmosphere. The competition result was quite unexpected because our primary goal was to try to design a game that containrd our own thoughts and stories, not to win a competition or prize. During our working project to design the game, having a specific goal motivated our team to work enthusiastically. We challenged ourselves to participate in a global competition, The Imagine Cup, because it was a very famous, representative Internet technology competition and there are very few game contests in Korea. We were very lucky to get this opportunity and to have such a good result.
The AG: What are some special features of the game, “Lynn: A Girl into Puzzle?”
JY6: “Lynn: A Girl into Puzzle” is a slightly complicated game that combines chess-like puzzle techniques with narratives about a legendary fox with nine tails. Although it is not particularly easy to play, like the famous game “Any Pang”, it aims to be creative and fresh. We wanted to do something unconventional with our game. The most unique part of the game is that it contains traditional Korean concepts, including Oriental illustrations and background sounds. For example, the puzzle patterns look like traditional brush paintings on Korean paper. Since there have not been many Korean style games, we hope that our game might attract more attention than others.
The AG: How did you prepare yourselves academically and get the help you needed to enter the competition?
JY6: We noticed that there were a lot of intelligent students at Ajou University. Many media class colleagues helped us to create the background sounds and game characters, as there are several club activities that involve graphic illustrations and music at Ajou University. After we got the prize money, we treated all of the students in the game club Brainstorm to dinner, because they had been so helpful. The coding and programming part of the game had been covered in our undergraduate courses. However, we had to do much more studying, using specialty media publications and the advice of alder students, in order to develop the game. It was very hard to prepare for the Imagine Cup while we were also studying for the university exams since we were seniors and needed good grades.
The AG: Do you have any guidelines or advice for Ajou University students preparing projects for similar competition?
JY6: There are a lot of talented students who have not demonstrated their full abilities because there are not many chances to communicate and exchange ideas on a large scale. In our case, even though we did not get much response to our team idea from within university, we developed new skills and were very inspired by the Imagine Cup preparations and feedback. It is very important to escape from narrow aims and to have big, global goals and plans. We want many students to challenge themselves, communicate with others, set definite plans, and use their achievements to extend their own qualifications. Sometimes, a group project in a university class can be a good competition entry. Do not let your ideas end up in the trash can. Our prize-winning game started as an ordinary class assignment. Some students have trouble setting goals and don’t know what they are interested in. This is just a natural part of university life, and we would advise these students to try out a range of different fields. This is the time to find out what you like.
The AG: What were some of the highlights, and what did you learn after the competition?
JY6: The Imagine Cup enabled us to understand technological trends and inspirations and to have a new experience outside the university. The other teams had so many innovative ideas. People think that only very smart students can win competitions, however, our grades were not always good and we had average results on college tests. Challenging yourself is not about grades. We never expected to win the competition and did not even prepare for the final round. Since were not under any pressure to win a prize, we were able to present the game in a fun, informal way, encouraging audience participation. We came up with the team name, “JY6” on the spur of the moment; it has no inner meaning. One of students was named Lee Jung-yeon and she told us about using a program called ‘Portal 6.’ Our team’s name was after abbreviation of “Jung-yeon”(JY) and “Portal 6”(6). We did not give it any serious meaning, and our relaxed approach allowed us to enjoy the competition. We believe that you can sometimes get a good result while enjoying yourself with no expectations. Most of all, we wanted a definite answer to the question: “Will the world love this game made by a group of students?”
Lee Joo yeon firstname.lastname@example.org
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