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Female coding competition winners get global acclaim for 'women in tech' message

Holly Bridges, Shauna Coates, and Kayleigh Bennett, all 14-years-old, attend Afon Tâf High School in South Wales and here they tell the story of their victory in the Kodu Kup and the incredible places it took them.

We first heard about the Kodu Kup after seeing a poster in the school corridor. We got excited when we discovered what the competition was about: it essentially challenges teams to create a computer game using Microsoft's Kodu programming language and we had always been into gaming.

The idea of our game came from a love of horror games and stories. We also knew that no one had made a horror game on Kodu before, so that was an extra reason to make one! 

Our story centers on Captain K, whose crew were killed in a crash landing on Mars. In the game, Captain K is in a dream state, being chased by a monster. He soon realises that he must save the souls of his lost crew if he is to defeat the monster and that the monster is actually a representation of regret. We called the game The Dark Side of Mars.

We were thrilled when we found out we had made the final. Once there, four judges had to choose a winner from the 11 finalists. We were up against some really talented groups, with well-made games and ideas.

We had to pitch our game to the judges, which consisted of people high up in the gaming industry. We focused our pitch on the role women have in technology and the gaming industry. Our aim was, and is, to inspire other young women to enter an industry that is very male-orientated.

To our surprise and delight, we were crowned UK Kodu Kup champions.

We were not prepared for what would happen next. We found ourselves being interviewed by journalists fom the US and began representing Microsoft at various events. We were also awarded a place on Microsoft’s Youth Spark program, the only group from the UK taking part.

Things just seemed to have eventually settled down when Mr Thomas [head of ICT at Afon Taf High School] came to see us and told us that Microsoft wanted us to be their guests at WeDay San Francisco.

We travelled to the US not knowing what to expect, but when we got there, we were treated like stars! We attended various events and were even interviewed by MTV.

We then set off for WeDay, where we were Microsoft’s VIP guests. We were given lots of freebies, including tablet devices. We also met lots of famous stars, including Martin Luther King Jr III and Evanna Lynch from the Harry Potter series. We also attended the aftershow party with the celebrities and the other Youth Spark winners.

The whole experience has changed our lives, but most importantly, we are more determined than ever to pursue our dreams and work in the gaming industry.


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