Meet the Winners: Matthew Bellavia

by Katy Svehaug
March 16, 2016

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Matthew Bellavia, 14, is a long-time player of console and PC games, so it was a natural fit when he started learning programming back in sixth grade. After experimenting with building basic games in Scratch, the Sammamish, Washington-native started using GameMaker as a way to combine a drag-and-drop interface with the ability to develop new code as a way to generate more complex games. Utilizing his knowledge of geometry and physics, his video game Gravity Galaxy won the Middle School Gamemaker award in the 2015 National STEM Video Game Challenge.

“I was surprised to find that many of the concepts [I learned] in school helped me in developing games,” says Matthew. His platform game features a wall-running astronaut exploring space, avoiding aliens, and flipping gravity.

ThumbnailMatthew plans to study business and computer programming in college, and aspires to one day start a tech or gaming company of his own. Last year, he served as Student Body President of his middle school. In his free time, Matthew enjoys playing baseball and video games—his favorites include Call of Duty, DayZ, Madden, and State of Decay. Much of his inspiration comes from his family and teachers, “People who go above and beyond,” says Matthew, “for example, teachers who actually get to know their students, and don’t just clock in and out.”

From his experience developing Gravity Galaxy, Matthew’s learned that sometimes the best way to solve problem is simply to look for an alternative. “Many times I would work for hours trying to fix a bug until I realized that sometimes there wouldn’t be a fix,” he explains. “[Then] I would have to replace what was causing the bug with something similar.” For those looking create a game of their own, he recommends turning to the Internet for help. “If you ever forget how to do something or what a function means, you can look it up and find tons of information,” says Matthew. “There is always a solution or way around a problem.”

Check out a recent feature on Matthew’s win in the news: