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Computer game takes Christmas to the next level

Students Caitlin Sampson, Nathan Mitchell, Josh Curry-Glasper, Gabriel Aldridge and Shaun Chipp have created a Christmas computer game

A Christmas cracker of a computer game designed by Sunderland College students is sure to have even Santa Claus himself competing for the top score.

The students have created a retro-style game called Super Sunderland Santa in which players must help Santa and his reindeers safely deliver presents down chimneys while avoiding flying obstacles.

Set on the snowy rooftops of the North East, the game features a host of regional landmarks including the Angel of the North, Penshaw Monument, Roker Lighthouse, Queen Alexandra Bridge, the Stadium of Light, and even the college’s very own Arts Academy.

In total, 15 students were involved in the concept stage, and four volunteers – Nathan Mitchell, Caitlin Sampson, Gabriel Aldridge and Josh Curry-Glasper – designed and coded the ‘side-scroller’ game.

Nathan, 16, from Rickleton in Washington, said: “It has been a really interesting experience and it’s great to see people playing and enjoying a game that I helped to develop. I didn’t think the end product would be as well received as it has been, but the feedback has been really positive.”

The students, who are studying a NextGen level 3 diploma in computer games, animation and VFX skills, also recruited the help of Shaun Chipp, a second year foundation degree in applied music student, who composed and performed the music for the game.

Shaun, from Town End Farm in Sunderland, came up with a melodic jingle using bells to create an enchanting, festive feeling, and incorporated key changes and an increase in tempo to reflect the game’s changing pace.

The talented musician, 20, said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in this collaborative project with the very talented games design students, and the project has offered a great experience in an area I am very keen to pursue as a future career.

“I think the game is brilliant. The simplistic control system means that it can appeal to all ages, the high score features adds a competitive edge, while at the same time it promotes the North East wonderfully, with quirky yet accurate illustrations of local landmarks featured throughout.”

The college’s marketing department set the brief for the computer game in order to add a festive feel to the Sunderland College website in the run-up to Christmas.

Since its launch on 2 December, Super Sunderland Santa has been played more than 1,000 times, averaging over 100 players a day, and the current top score stands at 27.

It has generated hundreds of likes, shares and retweets on social media, and is proving a hit among staff and students at the college.

Katy Dobinson, marketing executive at Sunderland College, said: “We have been overawed by the excellent reception to Super Sunderland Santa which has encouraged lots of interaction on the college’s website and social media accounts. The students have done an amazing job and we have been very impressed by their professionalism and creative approach to the project. ”

Matty McGrory, programme leader for the NextGen course at Sunderland College, added: “It has been a great experience for the students to work on a project like this from start to finish, especially as this was a collaborative initiative between college departments. They have put in a lot of extra hours to make sure the game was finished on time and met the original brief.

“The students only began the course in September, and they have already released their first game to the public. We are all really proud of what they have achieved in such a short space of time, and it is fantastic to see them develop their abilities and grow in confidence.

“The game itself is very addictive and the feedback from students, staff and members of the public has been very encouraging. The students are already in talks with the college’s marketing team about creating another game for Easter – it could be the start of a Sunderland College computer game franchise!”

Sunderland College is only one of four colleges in England teaching the innovative new NextGen level 3 diploma in computer games, animation and VFX skills.

Created by NextGen Skills Academy, in partnership with leading companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft Reflections, the course gives students unprecedented access to mentors and industry briefs from leading companies in the sector.

  • Click here to play Super Sunderland Santa!


  • For more information about the NextGen level 3 diploma in computer games, animation and VFX skills course, ring 0191 511 6000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or click here.

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