University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 045/2021, 14 April 2021
German Computer Game Award goes to the University of Bayreuth
Computer game scientists from Bayreuth have won the Young Talent Award in the renowned German Computer Game Prize. The master’s students Marius Mühleck, Jan Milosch, and Ilona Treml, as well as alumna Hannah Kümmel, took first place with their game “Passing By” in the category “Young Talent Award: Best Prototype”. With their € 50,000 in prize money, they now plan to produce a new version of their game idea.
Curly lives on an island and is entrusted by a postman to deliver a letter by hot-air balloon. The themes of time and transience come up on her imaginative journey, since a prevailing westerly means she can never return, and she is growing older all the while... The game design impressed the expert jury, above all, with its harmonious interplay of different game genres. The puzzle design is combined with jump-and-run elements and survival aspects in an appealing way that makes for compelling gameplay. Special mention was made by the expert jury of presentation. The aesthetically designed biomes are appropriately underscored with music, while the characters and world are designed with great diversity. The character design also takes into account aspects of diverse genders, people of colour, and non-heteronormative communities. “Passing By” is an exploration and survival game in which you take on the role of the ballooning character Curly. The game can be downloaded and played free of charge here: https://marius-muehleck.itch.io/passing-by
The development team behind “Passing By” comprises students and graduates of the University of Bayreuth: Marius Mühleck (27), Jan Milosch (28), and Ilona Treml (27) – all from Computer Game Studies – as well as Hannah Kümmel (26), game and level designer at Berlin’s “5th Planet Games” studio. The team formed during their studies and continued to work together on the prototype despite team member Hannah Kümmel graduating in the meantime. Not only were the game development skills taught in the degree programme helpful, but also the assistance and competencies provided in support. Indeed, the University of Bayreuth and the Computer Game Studies programme attach great importance to encouraging students in their plans and projects. Just getting nominated “absolutely overwhelmed” the team, according to Hannah Kümmel. “We actually finished work on the prototype of “Passing By” to get back to focusing on our studies. But the prize money will enable us to start planning a new version of the game idea afterwards, which we are, of course, very happy about”, the “Passing By” development team admits.
The German Computer Game Prize is a joint initiative of German business and the Bundestag, having been held since 2009. Prize money totalling € 790,000 is awarded in 15 categories. Studios and teams can submit their games and prototypes, from which twelve expert juries decide on nominations in all the categories. From these nominations, a main jury then selects the winners of the respective categories. Both the expert jury and the main jury are made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds. In addition to journalists and employees from the games industry, politicians and professors with a connection to (video) games also sit on the jury, including Prof. Dr. Jochen Koubek, Professor of Applied Media Studies / Digital Media at the University of Bayreuth. In the category Young Talent Award: Best Prototype, four other prototypes were nominated besides “Passing By”, from which the Bayreuth prototype emerged as winner.