Aspiring programmer Elisha Azaria, 13, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania learned about the National STEM Video Game Challenge from his father — whose work with artificial intelligence helped to inspire Elisha’s winning game design. Created as a complex 3D game, Alien AI Abduction won the Middle School Unity category of the 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge. In Alien AI Abduction, players run, jump, and blast evil robots as they navigate four levels of increasing difficulty.
“I started with a basic Unity3D game, and had many ideas for improvement,” says Elisha. “I implemented each of them until I got a totally different game that I liked.” Thanks to his iterative approach, Elisha was able to build out the complexity of his game over time while remaining confident that he had a playable game to fall back on. In addition to his interest in programming and game development, Elisha’s favorite subjects in school are math and robotics. His advice for other aspiring designers? “Ask for feedback—and follow it.”