Chesterfield County student Sam Raymond wins 2017 National STEM Video Game Challenge

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Explore an alien world and solve the mystery of your missing crewmates in The Trappist Incident. Sounds like a sci-fi novel, but it’s actually a national award-winning video game developed by James River High freshman Sam Raymond.

A Robious Middle student when the video game was designed, Sam is one of only 23 middle and high school winners of the 2017 National STEM Video Game Challenge. More than 3,000 entries – original video games and game design concepts – were submitted by students from across the country. Sam won the only UNITY game design platform award for the middle school category and was the only Virginia-based winner of the 23 students recognized.

“Coding and video game design are hot items right now. Students can really make a name for themselves with these skill sets,” School Board Chair Dr. Javaid Siddiqi said. “We continue to push our students to be innovative, creative and take on new challenges. Sam’s work and accomplishments are an example of the creative products our students are producing. ”

Presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, with founding sponsor the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the STEM Challenge was launched in 2010 as part of the White House’s Educate to Innovate Campaign. The Challenge was designed to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among youth by transforming their natural passion for playing video games into designing and creating their own games.

“Sam found his inspiration in his love for Star Wars and Star Trek,” Superintendent Dr. James Lane noted. “Inspired students who see the relevance in what they are learning and who are willing to think outside of the box can come up with awesome projects. We’re extremely excited that Sam’s creativity has been recognized nationally; it’s a testament to everything we are doing here in Chesterfield County.”

Sam received a cash prize of $1,000, a lifetime subscription to Gamestar Mechanic and the opportunity for a consultation with a game industry professional for advice on the advancement of his interest and skills development in design, engineering or game-making.

“Once I realized that coding and designing games wasn’t some form of magic, I thought it would be cool to learn the process as a way to release my imagination,” Sam said on the Joan Ganz Conney Center website. “Game design has taught me that going outside of my comfort zone can result in lots of fun and new experiences.”