Meet the Winners: Calvin Khiddee-Wu and Jagdeep Bhatia

by Katy Svehaug
November 14, 2016
Calvin Khiddee-Wu and Jagdeep Bhatia

Calvin Khiddee-Wu and Jagdeep Bhatia

Teammates Calvin Khiddee-Wu, 14, and Jagdeep Bhatia, 14, of Green Brook, New Jersey knew from the start that they wanted to design a video game with an apocalyptic setting, and ultimately decided to use their game to tell a story of survival in the wake of nuclear fallout. Their original video game design, Reconstruct, won the Middle School Team Open Platform category of the 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge after they were encourage to enter the competition by their middle school computer teacher. In Reconstruct, players fight off enemies while attempting to rebuild society after a nuclear apocalypse.

A major source of inspiration for Calvin is his mother, who grew up in rural Thailand before moving to the United States. “She inspires me because she is persistent, bold, and never gives up,” says Calvin. When he’s not developing new games, Calvin enjoys drawing, playing piano, playing video games, and browsing on the internet. In the future, he hopes to study electrical or computer engineering.

Screenshot from Reconstruct

Screenshot from Reconstruct

“When I get older I hope to become a computer scientist,” says Jagdeep, whose additional hobbies include running cross country and playing the tabla. Jagdeep’s interest in making video games goes all the way back to elementary school, when he was introduced to programs like Kodu Game Lab and Scratch before teaching himself JavaScript this past summer.

“The most valuable lesson I learned was to keep the end goal in mind,” says Calvin. “Though many problems and obstacles may delay or block production, the end product is worth the struggle.” Jagdeep also encourages aspiring designers to think carefully about their plan for production from the beginning. “Planning helps your game be more unified,” he explains. “It helps you to have a clear theme so that you do not waste time adding aspects to your game that do not make sense, and creates a clear timeline of everything that needs to be done.”