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Nerds FTW! UH Nets a Pair of Finalists in Microsoft's Video Game Design Contest

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The video game industry is massive. Video game sales outpaced music sales years ago and they continue to grow. And Houston has been home to many a video game programmer over the years. Perhaps that's because of the success at the University of Houston. For the fourth straight year, UH is the only school to have more than one team representing them in the gaming category of the U.S. Imagine Cup, a computer programming contest sponsored by Microsoft.

The contest requires students to develop a new game, change a current genre or develop a new visual style of a game using Microsoft software. Team Skyline Studios and Team Lost Spectrum -- not bad geek names! -- are the teams representing UH in the competition.

Growing up, I always dreamt of being able to create my own version of Galaga so I didn't have to keep begging my mom for quarters to go to the arcade. Two things stood in my way. First, I couldn't program my way out of a paper sack. Second, this was the '80s and even our nerd movies like War Games seemed stupidly out of reach. I wonder if these dudes could build me a Galaga, 'cause that would be sweet!

Both teams created games for the Windows Phone.

The two teams from UH both created brand-new Windows Phone games. Team Skyline Studios developed Zipline Hero, a puzzle-action platform game where the player uses the touch screen input to rescue animals. Team Lost Spectrum developed Chroma Tales, a fast-paced 2-D action game where each player's mission is to restore color to the world.

"We really wanted to do a phone game, but we didn't want to just copy one of the other games out there. We wanted to make something new and exciting," said Justin Wells, the team leader of Skyline Studios, in a release.

Admittedly, it's over my head, but that's why God (and Bill Gates) invented computer programmers. And what better reason to be a programmer than to help people waste time on their phones with computer games? Now, go fetch me that Galaga!

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