This year the US Imagine Cup Game Design Competition is wide open for participation by high school students over the age of 16. Yes this is primarily a college/university level competition but I’ve seen high school students compete at high levels in the past. Frankly I am hearing stories of high school kids developing some very fun and interesting games for the Xbox 360 using XNA Game Studio. Why not make a little competition part of the plan for the better students. Perhaps for the independent studies students?
What is in it for the students? A couple of things. First there is the potential for prize money and a trip to Washington DC for the US finals. And perhaps the world-wide finals in Poland and more prize money. But you are going to say that is a long shot and maybe it is (or maybe not if your students are smart and we know they have a great teacher) but at the very least they could wind up with a competitive game that they can include in their portfolio for college or for future jobs.
And if they win at any level you know that will look good on both college and career applications.
I should tell you that if games are not your thing the U.S. Imagine Cup Software Design Competition (aka the main event) is also open to high school students over the age of 16. There was a high school student on a team with his college age brothers last year and they won in the US championship and traveled to Egypt for this year’s finals. Similar benefits to this one.
If you are a college/university student you will want to enter as well. Maybe win some money but definitely there is good potential for impressing future hiring managers with your initiative and creativity. In the past a good number of high level finishers have taken their Imagine Cup projects and turned them into businesses. Participation in the competition will give you exposure to industry and venture capital experts. Of course it is then up to the competitors to be impressive.
Note: As I was reminded in the comments:
Just as an FYI, any eligible US student that registers for ImagineCup is automatically eligible for a $10,000 prize just for entering. Also, register on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2:00 and 4:00 PT and be entered in a drawing for a copy of Halo 3: ODST