If you suddenly found yourself stranded in the hottest desert in North America, would you have the survival skills and environmental wherewithal to make it out in one piece? In The Great Desert Escapade, designed by 15-year-old Lauren Thomas from Boise, Idaho, players instincts are put to the test as they navigate the unforgiving Sonoran Desert. Thanks to an engaging and well-executed design, The Great Desert Escapade won the High School Gamestar Mechanic category of the 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge.
Lauren learned about the National STEM Video Game Challenge from her older sister Olivia Thomas, who won the High School Gamestar Mechanic category in the 2015 cycle of the National STEM Video Game Challenge. “When I was 7 or 8, Olivia got a Gamestar Mechanic account, and naturally, I wanted one too,” Lauren explains. “From there, I just started experimenting with games and discovered that it was fun.” When she’s not designing games or solving Nancy Drew mystery games, Lauren’s hobbies include reading, playing classical guitar, playing basketball, and spending time outdoors. After high school she hopes to pursue education or music.
“Even if you don’t like video games that much, making them is a lot different than playing them because of the creativity involved,” Lauren says, encouraging other students to try their hand at game development. “There’s often more writing and design than what you would imagine.”