RANCHESTER — Tongue River Middle School student Theron Kalasinsky has won a national award from the computer curriculum program Globaloria for his creation of a computer game. Kalasinsky, an eighth-grader, created the game as part of his computer class at TRMS last year.
Kalasinsky competed against 3,000 other students who created 3,857 games in five states in the Globey Game Design Competitions and Awards to become one of the winners in nine different categories. He was the only Wyoming student to win a top award though Cameron Brown and Caroline Haile of Big Horn Middle School and Wyatt Yeigh from TRMS were also honored as finalists in the competition.
Kalasinsky won top honors in the hidden object game category. The game is titled “The Search” and was built around Kalasinsky’s love of the outdoors.
“It had to be educational and within STEM, which is science, technology, engineering and math,” Kalasinsky explained. “Mine went into the category of science. I wanted something outdoorsy.”
Kalasinsky said he was particularly interested in creating a game that people who don’t know much about the outdoors might enjoy.
“I wanted mine to be based on what I like to do,” he continued. “I like to hunt and at that time I was learning tracking and so it was one of those things, ‘why not teach other people to track?’ Maybe they would be able to learn from this and maybe go try it. It might intrigue them.”
Kalasinsky also put a personal touch on the game’s opening page, where he features a picture of the famous wizard Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Rather than saying his famous line, “you shall not pass,” Kalasinsky gave him the quote “you shall not win.”
“I thought why not incorporate some of my own personality into the game,” Kalasinsky said. “That is one of the most heard phrases anywhere in movies. So I put a spin on that and added a picture. It is something you probably wouldn’t expect to see on the beginning of a game page so it was something to get someone to look more into it and maybe play the game.”
The game contains hidden objects in an outdoor scene that biologists, scientists or hunters might look for while searching a habitat for an animal, in this case, a deer. The objects are related to signs that deer leave, such as hoof prints, browsed vegetation, antlers and more. The player of the game is timed to see how fast he or she can find the various objects hidden in the scene, using a custom cursor that Kalasinsky created in the shape of a walking stick.
“I was pretty excited,” Kalasinsky said about the award. “It was my first game ever and first introduction even into Adobe Flash and I won something. I think it is really cool that I’m doing good in something I like to do and that I got an award for something I just started.”
The game is posted on Globaloria’s website and it can be found and played at http://globaloria.com/games-front-page/item/the-search.
Globaloria teaches coding and educational content through computer game design to fifth- through 12th-grade students. The program has offered the Globey Awards since 2008.
“This annual challenge and awards program celebrates our students’ learning accomplishments nationwide, and highlights the students’ learning process as much as their final products,” said Dr. Idit Harel, CEO and founder of Globaloria in a press release about the awards. “This is a serious form of brain sports, and this year’s 40 finalists and nine winners are a great testament to the impact of our courses on students’ knowledge and abilities in STEM and computing. I believe these games speak for themselves. They are quite hard to conceive, plan, and make.”