Penguin Slider is a game (US $1.99 for the iPad and $0.99 for the iPhone and iPod touch) created by Mark Thompson and Ashley Hunter, two 17 year old students at The Wallace High School, a 1200 student Co-educational Grammar school in Lisburn Northern Ireland, near Belfast. They are shown above with their proud past-principal Deborah O’ Hare. Mark and Ashley were guided by their ICT teacher David Cleland, but did the work themselves both in and out of school over a three-month period. All proceeds from the game are going into the students’ college funds. Mark hopes to be an architect, while Ashley (pictured on the right) would like to be an ICT teacher later in life. I had a chance to interview the teacher and his two students via email and everyone is very proud of the students’ accomplishment.
The project was completely driven by the kids, who pulled skills from their ICT class as well as their Moving Image Arts and Art classes. The hardest part of coming up with the game was getting the idea, “Having a winning idea is the challenge,” they said. “We just wish that we came up with Angry Birds.” Doesn’t everyone? Angry Birds and Cut the Rope both provided some inspiration for Penguin Slider — they’re both “puzzling, addictive and challenging games titles that want you coming back for more.” The game took three months to from idea to completion and both versions were accepted by the App Store on the first submission which made them both quite happy. Ashley, who is a self-taught programmer in C#, Java, Objective C, VBA and HTML, took care of the coding, while Mark looked after the design and the artwork.
When done, the game caused quite a buzz at their school, as “all pupils bought the game and then compared scores and challenges.” I was told that people of all ages have fun with the game, which starts out simply but gets quite difficult over the 36 levels, as you guide your penguin across ice-fields to his destination. Future versions of the title will add “additional levels, features and something very special.”
A free version will be popping up in the App Store soon, so I’d advise you to take a look and if it sparks your fancy, help send two very bright Irish kids to college.