Hunter Wallace, an incoming Ball State junior and computer science major from Zionsville, spent the last semester developing an original, award-winning video game that teaches its players about teamwork and history.

“The best part of this experience was being given a real-world task and working with an amazing group of people to make something for the Muncie community,” said Wallace, a Zionsville Community High School graduate. “We all walked in as strangers to each other and left as friends with a finished and fun product. It was fantastic to be a part of.”

Led by Professor of Computer Science Paul Gestwicki, a team of 12 students founded the independent game development studio Happy Accident Studios and created “Canning Heroes,” a cooperative video game for one to four players, in just 15 weeks. Players work together to virtually process green beans, tomatoes, and carrots for canning.

“Canning Heroes” won a silver award in the student division of the International Serious Play Awards, which honors games made for education or training. The game was designed for installation on touch screens at the renovated Oakhurst home, a historic Ball family home at Minnetrista, a Muncie museum and gathering place. The game is tied to Minnetrista’s theme of play-based learning — learning by talking, playing, and working together.

“The game ties into Muncie’s connection with the history of food preservation, specifically, canning in Ball jars and the writing of the original Ball Blue Book,” Gestwicki said. “The game should help families at Minnetrista learn and play together.”

“The students undertook a significant design challenge and have done a tremendous job,” Gestwicki said. “They became proficient with industry-standard tools in shortorder and produced something of real value for the community.”

Wallace hopes the game will inspire families to come together and create wonderful experiences that they can bring home.

“This project absolutely helped me on my career path,” Wallace said. “It taught me a lot of valuable lessons that I will carry with me as I grow as a software developer. Large scale coding projects, team management styles, and multi-disciplinary collaboration were some of the best things I learned.”

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