As part of my job doing outreach for the physics department, I often accompany my boss to help her with science demos for kids. One of her favorite things to do while introducing me is mention that I study videogames at the university. Most of the time, this elicits a fair number of “oohs” and “ahs,” even from high school students who are trying their hardest to look aloof for their peers. Of course, I usually omit the fact that most of my work is simply writing papers (nor do I tell them how much I actually like writing papers) and instead talk about some of the games I’ve made over the years as part of my coursework. Usually, this will get the students’ attention, at which point we can actually start teaching them about physics.
Yesterday, we were working with a room full of elementary students when she once again let slip that I study videogames. With considerably less restraint than high school students, the whole room was soon clamoring to ask me questions. One kid asked me if I studied Mario. Another asked if I made Mario. Some just started telling me all about their favorite game. It took a while to calm them down and get back to talking about science (which was what our presentation was actually about), but we eventually got back on track.
As we were getting ready to leave, one of the grade schoolers came up and started talking to me. “So you make games?” he asked.
“Yep.” I responded. “I do.”
“You know what you should do?”
“You should make a fighting game…about a hot dog. And he should fight bad guys. And the bad guys should be stick figures…with skull heads!”
“Skull heads, eh?”
“Yeah! That would be the best game ever!”
For a second grader, it wasn’t a half bad elevator pitch (in fact, it’s better than a lot of pitches I’ve heard over the years). Kind of a Double Dragon meets Burger Time sort of idea. Maybe I just liked it because out of all the kids there, he was the only one who wasn’t just interested in videogames, but in making videogames. He also gets bonus points for originality.
I will probably never get around to actually making the hot dog warrior game, but if I did, it might look something like this: