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Tech students are ahead of the game

Juniors and seniors show off their digital projects at 'Tech Show'

Juniors and seniors show off their digital projects at 'Tech Show'

May 17, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Students at Washington County Technical High School are creating new planets and life forms that others can play with.

Everything is fair game, as long as it can be translated into a digital form.

Martin Nikirk, who developed and teaches the Computer Games Development and Animation program, said his students are developing, in groups, four video games. Some students have their own projects, too.

In a "Tech Show" at the school Wednesday night, juniors and seniors in several programs presented their games, Web sites, digital portraits, animation and other work in repair and networking.

They introduced themselves to each visitor, led tours and explained their projects in front of computer terminals.

Nikirk said social skills are part of the curriculum; students must make pitches to computer and software executives and need to sell themselves and their work.

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Jeffrey Lee introduced visitors to the game he's developing, "The Mytharis Conflict."

Writing all of the code himself, he created species that fit into either the "technological" or "mystical" categories.

Players will create planets, buildings and ships using limited resources.

Tyler Shank of Smithsburg High School and Zacharia Bowman of Hancock Middle-Senior High School did the artwork.

When Jeffrey's plan is complete - which might take a while - thousands of players will take part at one time over the Internet, he said.

Jeffrey, from Boonsboro High School, said he will find a job after he graduates and work on his game. Then, he will pursue a business management degree.

Steven Mills of South Hagerstown High School described his three-part video game series called "Sinaria" at "Tech Show 07."

The first part, "Immortal Legends," is a world that seems perfect, but soon isn't. In the second part, "The Black Knight," players fight to improve the world. Part three hasn't been decided.

Players can explore 11 nations.

Steven said he wrote 100 pages of ideas for his game in four months. At Tech High, he enlisted Richard Tonetti of Boonsboro High School to do the artwork.

Richard said he will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University next year, but still will collaborate with Steven.

Admission to the video game program isn't guaranteed - only 18 are accepted - but it puts students on a good career path, Nikirk said.

A national study found that a starting salary for video game programmers is about $67,700, he said, but they work about 60 hours a week.

"It's a very highly demanding job," he said.

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