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  • Game Design Challenge: No Sports? No Problem!

    - Danny Cowan
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every month, we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted.

    The Challenge

    Design a non-sports game starring a professional athlete.

    Assignment Details

    Simulations of real-world sports have been around since Tennis for Two, and since those early days, nearly every sport imaginable been recreated in the world of video games. Many of these games build themselves around a single athlete or sports figure, like the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series or Madden NFL, though their cover stars typically have little to do with the core gameplay.

    Other games, however, take their sports star license in a completely different direction, with memorable results. Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City dragged the NBA megastar off the court and into a 2D platformer with breakable backboards that award power-ups. 2002’s Go! Go! Beckham! Adventure on Soccer Island places soccer star David Beckham in a side-scrolling quest to stop the evil Mister Woe using an enchanted soccer ball. While both of these games incorporate their stars' real-world skills to an extent, their fantasy elements add a spark of creativity that we'd like to see more of in modern titles.

    For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, your job is to design a non-sports game starring a professional athlete.

    Your design can feature any style of gameplay - just make sure that it’s NOT a traditional sports game. For instance, a third-person shooter where Serena Williams uses tennis balls as weaponry is acceptable, while a straightforward tennis sim does not qualify. Some sample ideas include a baseball-themed adventure game in which a star MLB pitcher must track down their missing teammates before a big game, a fantasy RPG where LeBron James uses his basketball abilities to stop a time-traveling menace, or a match-three puzzle game in which Tom Brady battles other NFL stars for locker room bragging rights. The Michael Jordan and David Beckham games described above are pretty silly to begin with, so feel free to get creative with this one. Have fun!

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask your instructors and fellow students for input. When your submission is complete, send it to [email protected] with the subject line "Game Design Challenge: No Sports? No Problem!" Please type your answer directly in the email body -- do not submit .pdf or Word documents.

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, November 20.

    Results will be posted Tuesday, November 26.

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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