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March 27, 2014

Student Club's 'Ride the Lion' Video Game a Hit

By Steve Daniel

Dozens of ODU students lined up to ride the lion - many of them repeatedly - last Thursday afternoon.

But not the bronze lion statue that stands guard over Kaufman Mall. While that has been a university tradition among some members of the student body, it's one that has been discouraged in recent years due to safety concerns. Instead, these students were playing a new video game called "Ride the Lion," which was created by the Video Game Design and Development Club.

The student club, which has been in existence for just under a year, unveiled the game in the front lobby of Webb Center last week, and it immediately proved to be a popular diversion. The game features a lion that runs through the ODU campus, and the player in control must avoid obstacles along the way to collect "coins/crowns." Players do not actually "ride the lion" during the game, but instead direct the maned mascot as he navigates some familiar landmarks on campus.

The goal of the game is simple: to make the highest score. Players can enter their Midas ID after playing to see if their score ranks among the top 10. If a score does, indeed, crack the top 10, the student gets an email saying so. Also, if a player later gets knocked out of this elite group, he or she gets another email with the bad news.

The game was made available for three hours on March 20, as a number of students played multiple times, vying for a high score. The club distributed prizes to the top scorers from local merchants, including Del Vecchios, Captain Zig Zag, Perfectly Franks, La Herradura and the University Village Bookstore.

The following members of the Video Game Design and Development Club were responsible for developing "Ride the Lion": Josh Cruze, creative director; Stephen Daily, project lead; Brandon Ripley, lead programmer; Lookmai Rattana, lead artist; and Shane Harrison, senior public relations officer. The club currently has only nine members in all, and they worked about seven months to create "Ride the Lion."

"The VGDDC is a club that wants to show students the entire process of making a game, from brainstorming the idea to staying up till 2 a.m. coding, and everything in between," said Harrison.

What's next for the game? One member of the club said there's a chance it might get a permanent spot in Webb Center, and a library representative has expressed interest in getting a game console as well. In the meantime, the organization is setting its sights on a new project.

"Now that the game has been released, we will be taking on another game and we want more people to get involved," Harrison said. Interested students can contact him at sharr114@odu.edu, using the club name in the message line. Quoting from the club's constitution, Harrison added: "Whether you are an artist, musician, programmer, writer or anything else you can think of, your talents can be put to use in the field of video game development."