Meet the students making video games for charity

A new range of video games raising vital funds for UK charities has been developed by a team of students at the University of Sheffield.

Four students holding posters for video games they have developed
  • University of Sheffield students have made a new range of video games and are donating 100 per cent of their revenue to UK charities
  • Project Pixel was started by two computer science students and has now grown into what could be the biggest team of students producing video games at any UK university
  • None of the students involved had any experience of making games, but in less than a year have produced two games, learning all aspects of game development as they go
  • Sheffield students are looking to inspire others to make video games for charitable causes

A new range of video games raising vital funds for UK charities has been developed by a team of students at the University of Sheffield. 

Project Pixel, which creates 2D games for mobile that will soon be available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, is making games for the good of society by donating 100 per cent of its revenue to charitable causes.

The title menu of Flight Frenzy - a mobile game developed by students at the University of Sheffield
Flight Frenzy - an endless runner game developed by students at the University of Sheffield in which players become a skilled pilot, avoiding obstacles and collecting items as they fly.

What started as an idea from two friends less than a year ago, has now grown into what is believed to be the biggest team of students producing video games at any UK university.

More than 25 students, all on various degree programmes across the arts, humanities, engineering, science and social sciences, have now joined the initiative. From programming, sound production and graphics design, to story writing, character creation and marketing - the students have built several teams working in every area of game development.

Students from Project Pixel holding certificates they have been presented with

Furthermore, all of the students involved have no previous experience in video game production, but they are using their passion for gaming, their desire to work in the industry and skills gained from their degree to learn how to develop games as they go. 

The team has already produced two games - Color Dash and Flight Frenzy - both endless runner-style games in which the player has to avoid obstacles while constantly moving and survive for as long as possible. 

In Color Dash, an evil sorcerer has drained a colourful realm of all its colours, leaving the landscape dead and dreary. The player embarks on an adventure to gather colourful orbs and bring colour back to the world, serving as a reminder of the strength of hope and the victory of light over darkness.

A woman playing a video game on her phone

Flight Frenzy takes the player on an action-packed adventure of a skilled pilot, creating a challenge to avoid obstacles like birds and skyscrapers, collect ammo to shoot down birds and fuel to ascend higher, all whilst battling changing weather conditions.

Color Dash is available to download now and Flight Frenzy is due to be published later this year, after the students were awarded funding from a co-curricular activities fund in Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering, which has enabled them to buy a publishing licence for the Google app store.

Two more games called Turtle Odyssey and Chef's Last Stand are currently in development, as the students lead the initiative alongside their studies. 

Najaaz Nabhan, an international student from Sri Lanka and one of the founders of Project Pixel, said: “We started Project Pixel as we wanted to make a positive impact on the world through gaming. We know that gaming is a part of so many people’s lives, whether that be people who play casually on their phone or people who play more competitively, so we wanted to try to tap into this to raise funds for charity. 

“The gaming industry is huge - bigger than the music and film industries combined - but from what we’ve seen many charitable initiatives are based around sponsored gaming. We wanted to do something different, so we thought why not make our own games and donate all of our revenue to charity.

“There are lots of students who make video games, it’s a common field, but we haven’t seen a team of this size at any university who are making games for charity.”

Two students looking at a video game on a laptop

To help get Project Pixel off the ground, the students sought advice from Sumo Digital - an award winning video game developer based in Sheffield, which has worked on some of the industry’s biggest titles.

The students met with Jake Habgood, Director of Education Partnerships at Sumo, who is also a Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University. Jake gave them advice on creating a society and recommendations on how to approach effective game development.

Jake from Sumo Digital said: “It’s fantastic to see a diverse range of students engaging with game development at the University of Sheffield. The games industry will need diverse skill sets and ideas to successfully engage new audiences and create innovative new products. This is a great initiative, and we wish the students every success.”

Three students chatting around a table

As the Sheffield students prepare to release their first two games, they hope Project Pixel can inspire others who are looking to get into the gaming industry and raise money for charitable causes.

Aamir Ali, an international student from India and co-founder of Project Pixel, said: “As the project started to develop we quickly found that lots of students from all over the University of Sheffield, who are studying on all kinds of degree programmes, are passionate about gaming and want to work in the industry, but they are not sure how or where to start. Project Pixel has given us all the opportunity to learn about game development together and take our first steps in the industry, whilst also doing something good for society.

 “We would love to inspire students at other universities and turn this into a global movement. Everyone at Project Pixel has shown that it doesn’t matter what degree you’re studying or whether you know anything about game development - you have a chance if you have the passion and willingness to learn.”

More information on Project Pixel.

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