March 3, 2006

Red Bull Sponsors Computer Game Design Contest

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The energy drink brand Red Bull is sponsoring a Flash computer game competition open to college undergrads across America.

Winners will have a temporary production studio built on their campus so they can complete their programming of the game in June in 21 days.

“It is often the case that schools expect their students to be creative in an environment that is sterile and boring. The production studio we will build will be as creative as the student who will be using it,” wrote Ellie Applen, Red Bull communications manager, in an e-mail.

The CL3 Multi-Media station in Uris library is Cornell’s closest approximation to a production studio, according to Prof. David Schwartz, computer science, and director of the Game Design Initiative at Cornell.

Entrants must base the theme of their game on the Red Bull X-Fighters freestyle motocross competition, which will take place in Mexico City and Madrid, Spain this year.

“Red Bull X-Fighters provides us with a unique opportunity to present the students’ game to a truly global audience. With X-Fighters taking place in both Mexico and Spain, we can be confident that the game is viewed by people all over the world,” Applen added.

The game will then be posted online at and; the winners still hold all rights to the game.

Entering teams can have as many as five members. Schwartz envisioned a team to be comprised of “two to three programmers, an artist or illustrator and a person with digital music writing or scripting skills.”

Schwartz advised four students in a Flash project involving Shawn Chen, one of those involved, had advice for Flash programmers planning to enter the contest. In an e-mail, he said that “people with little computer programming experience should find Flash easy to use, though experienced programmers will feel limited by it” and that “complex animation is easily handled by Flash, so artists aren’t as constrained.”

In an e-mail, Jesse Warden, one of the judges of the competition, says that the “winning game will ooze with well-executed style, be high energy, have attitude and will appear well-coded.” He described a good Flash computer game as “something that is easy to start, causes you to want to IM your friends the link to it, and is small enough to run on a website so others can quickly download and play.”

Schwartz acknowledged the fact that the Red Bull brand “gets easy [public relations]” on college campuses through the contest, and that it can easily reach out to a young demographic through the contest, while also admitting that the contest “gets people excited about games and is a chance for high-quality production.”

While a team from Cornell has yet to enter the Red Bull Build Contest, a group of girl-gamers has entered “Games for Girls,”? programming competition, sponsored by ChicTech, an outreach program of the University of Illinois Department of Computer Science. The contest invites teams of college women to design a computer game for young girls.

“You usually picture dirty guys playing computer and video games,”? said Schwartz. “And you figure they’re who makes them, too.”

Schwartz added that Cornell teams usually aren’t successful in competitions because they’re “too good”? and “complicate things,”? in projects with a small scope.

Archived article by Jessica DiNapoli
Sun Staff Writer