April 12, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Winners of Second Round of Statewide Game DEV Challenge

Governor Cuomo Announces Winners of Second Round of Statewide Game DEV Challenge

Winners Awarded Funding to Assist with Game Development and Production

The Challenge Received 25 Submissions from Across New York

Innovative Competition Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the winners of the second round of the New York State Game DEV Challenge. The challenge invited students enrolled in New York State colleges and universities, and independent developers residing within the state, to bring innovative ideas to production by applying to win awards to support the development of digital games. Applicants were judged on their game idea pitch, prototype, business and mentorship plans, and development timeline.

"These developers are the best of the best and are fueling the growth of the burgeoning digital gaming industry across New York," Governor Cuomo said. "I congratulate all of today's the winners in this innovative sector, and I am looking forward to their further collaboration with our expanding digital gaming hubs as they develop this next generation of digital technology in the Empire State."

The winners were selected at an event hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology's Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC) at The Strong in Rochester. In total, the competition received 25 entries.

Winners in the Student Category:

First place: RIT-- Aesthetician Labs: Noah Ratcliff, a third-year game design and development major from Columbus, Ohio; Aidan Markham, a third-year game design and development major from Rochester, NY; and Sam Cammarata, a second-year game design and development major from Holland, NY, for Crazy Platez.

Second place: RIT-- Team Odyssey: Alexander Woodward, a fourth-year game design and development major from Centerville, OH; Stephen Callan, a third-year game design and development major from Pittsburgh; Justine Levine, a third-year game design and development major from Somers, NY; and Edward Opich, a third-year game design and development major from Conesus, NY, for Odyssey.

Third place: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- Team Tunacat: Fanghong Dong, a second-year games and simulation arts and sciences major from China; and Hongyang Lin, a second-year games and simulation arts and sciences major from China, for Mastery.

Winners in the Independent Developer Category:

First place: Razbury Games—Dean Razavi, from New York, NY, for From Rust.

Second place: Snow Day Software—Colby Breidenstein and Brian Russ, from Buffalo, NY, for Hovership Havoc.

Third place: Third place: Imaginary Monsters—Peter Lazarski, from Rochester, NY, for Abyxsis.

First-place winners in both categories each won $12,000; second-place winners in both categories each won $8,000; and third-place winners in both categories each won $5,000. The money is to be used to aid in the development and production of their games. Winners will also be included in an on-site incubator at RIT, NYU or RPI for up to one year and will have access to a mentor network. Photos of the winners can be found here.

ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Game DEV Challenge highlights RIT's emerging role as a digital media hub. By encouraging students and independent developers to design and produce innovative digital games, competitions like these are creating new jobs and opportunities in the Finger Lakes region and across the state."

Robert Mostyn, New York State Game Challenge administrator and Digital Games HUB Coordinator at RIT said, "We are incredibly lucky to have such rich industry talent and network of support throughout the state. Together with our friends and partners we are working to put New York state on the national map of a great place to make games. And this challenge, and the developers that we are going to recognize today, are a very important part of this network—and we are excited to continue growing that today."

Empire State Development's Division of Science, Technology and Innovation designated RIT, NYU and RPI as Digital Gaming Hubs in January 2016, and carry that designation through December 31, 2018. The hubs are supported by $150,000 in New York State funding per year for three years. The goal is to foster innovation and collaborative activities that create new games or companies, as well as provide resources and mentoring that encourage students and entrepreneurs to enter the digital gaming industry. The hubs also assist existing companies with gaming concepts, technologies and trends and host events focused on assisting the gaming community.

Additionally, these hubs are now Centers of Excellence designed to foster collaboration between the academic research community and the business sector to develop and commercialize new products and technologies, to promote critical private sector investment in emerging high-technology fields in New York State, and to create and expand technology-related businesses and employment. This program was created to enhance and accelerate the operations of recipient centers in the facilitation of joint university-industry research and development, product commercialization, and workforce training. For more information on the Game DEV Challenge, click here.

About RIT's MAGIC Center

RIT's MAGIC Center is a nonprofit university-wide research and development laboratory and a for-profit production studio that assists in efforts to bring digital media creations up to marketplace standards and commercialization. Faculty, staff and student researchers, artists and practitioners come together to create, contextualize and apply new knowledge in a multitude of related fields and disciplines as appropriate not only to STEM or the arts and humanities, but their intersection. RIT's MAGIC Spell Studios, which will move into a new building in 2018, focuses on nurturing and growing new companies and publishing and distributing their projects.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.


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