NYC GenTech Spotlight on Roxy Banik
A few weeks ago, we profiled NYC Gentech's Spring Break Game Jam, which brought 68 NYC high schoolers to Microsoft's office in Times Square to create fully functional mobile games as programmers, game level designers, and digital artists.
The winning team, ColorChase, won $500 for creating a fun "endless runner" game that involved matching the meaning of a word with the color of ghosts in the game.
This week, we highlight Roxy Banik, a member of Team ColorChase. Currently a senior at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan, Roxy is an alumna of the Girls Who Code program, which aims to provide computer science education to 1 million young women by 2020. She says NYC GenTech has inspired her to pursue further study in design and computer science.
Roxy talked to us about her experience learning, designing, and collaborating with teammates at NYC Gentech's Spring Break Game Jam.
What was your favorite part about the Game Jam?
The greatest part about the Game Jam was trying something entirely new with one-on-one guidance from mentors. The concept of developing a functional game in less than 24 hours sounded intimidating initially, but the track-specific workshops (led by the mentors) gave me the confidence I needed to contribute my skills effectively. One of my mentors, Fabian, a graphic designer, taught me new shortcuts in Photoshop, a program I spend hours working with weekly—I learned so many cool things from him!
What was the most difficult part of the challenge?
The most difficult aspect of the challenge was constructing a pitch, which required us to think critically about why our product was important and appealing. After brainstorming, we realized the purpose of our product. We weren’t developing just any game, we were creating a brain-training game that tests the user’s memory skills and improves cognitive reflexes. Recognizing the value of our product was incredibly rewarding.
How did you come up with the idea for ColorChase?
Our team wanted to make something challenging, visually stimulating, and fun. The game engine that was provided to us had a scrolling, horizontal screen for a canvas. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to create an exciting, fast-paced memory game. Another goal of ours was to create a game that was recognizable and therefore easy to pick up. This is why we chose to incorporate the Pac-Man theme.
How did this Game Jam change your perception of game development/design?
Seeing for myself that I can create my own polished game in under 24 hours is thrilling. I didn’t know this was possible! As a designer, some people who think graphic design isn’t valuable have discouraged me from pursuing it as a career. At the Game Jam, my mentor told me that my skills are important because every product needs a design, and this made me feel great about my interests. I got to see firsthand how my skills are applicable and exploring game design helped me find a new way to apply my passion for design. I can’t wait to see what else I create!
Congratulations to all five members of Team ColorChase:
- Roxy Banik - Girls Who Code alum, Bard High School Early College, Manhattan, 12th grade
- Gabriella Chu - Girls Who Code alum, Bard High School Early College, Queens, 12th grade
- Anita Lin - Brooklyn Tech High School, Brooklyn, 9th grade
- Niqeel Mohamed - Bayside High School, Queens, 9th grade
- Tim Sitorus - GenTech alum, Stuyvesant High School, Queens, 12th grade
Remember to take a quick game break and check out all of the Game Jam submissions. We look forward to seeing what else these budding game developers create!
Interested in applying to GenTech or know someone who would be? Applications for this year’s summer program are extended to May 23rd. Sign up for the GenTech e-newsletter to find out more about future Game Jams and other opportunities for high schoolers.