UT Graduate Wins Vol Court Pitch Competition with Game Idea

University of Tennessee graduate student Charles Chin has won the Vol Court spring business pitch competition and is on track to develop and release a video game similar to SimCity that highlights the importance of energy production and consumption in the real world.

"I want to make a video game where a person builds a virtual city and populates it and has to keep track of energy usage, production, pollution — things people don't really think about when it comes to energy — and use it to create an educational environment for the student," Chin said. "I want it to have massive appeal outside the educational game world."

"The biggest thing that I think I got from the Vol Court is confirmation this is a good, viable idea from a business standpoint," Chin added. "To see that other people see the value in this is nice. I'm glad that people can kind of accept it for what it is."

The bi-annual Vol Court competition is run by UT's College of Business Administration's Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It offers workshop presentations on ideas and rewards entrepreneurs from the community for their efforts. Chin received $1,000 from the Vol Court competition, but he also gets free access to legal and accounting services, as well as incubator space in which to develop his idea.

Second place in the spring competition went to Anthony Smith, a junior majoring in public relations, who is developing a low-cost marketing package for small companies. Sarah Hurst, a doctoral student at the UT Institute of Agriculture, received honorable mention for a new Type 2 diabetes treatment.

While Chin's idea may be a good one, he still has to turn his pitch into something real, but his idea was good enough to beat out some serious competition. Chin said he plans to flesh out the game idea a lot more before he seeks additional funding.

"I've always thought about making video games because I enjoy them so much, but I never had an idea I thought I could take forward as much as this one," he said.

He added that video games can be fun and popular while remaining educational. He specifically mentioned Assassin's Creed, a historically-themed, fiction-based game, as an example.

"You're an assassin in Renaissance Italy and because you're an assassin you end up learning real-world facts while you're playing," he said.

Source: Knox News

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