Gaming twins win contest

20:46, May 20 2014
Ben Krebs
ECHO GAME: Ben Krebs, 21, shows how Echo, the game he created with twin brother Jon, works.

The Krebs twins' success in a game development competition could see them come face to face with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Jon and Ben Krebs, 21, from Half Moon Bay won the national Microsoft Imagine Cup games category with their entry, Echo.

Imagine Cup is the world's premier student technology competition which aspiring technologists, entrepreneurs and developers enter.

Krebs twins
MICROSOFT WINNERS: Twin brothers, Ben, left, and Jon Krebs, 21, won the national Microsoft Imagine Cup games category with their game Echo and received a giant cheque for $3000.

Students create a business plan to gain an understanding of what they need to bring their game concept to market.

The former Macleans College students created the 2D game Echo that can be played on almost all digital devices including smartphones, computers, laptops and tablets.

The game's character is blind and the player must click the screen and use a ray of light to move him on the correct path.


It works in a similar way to dolphins using echo location underwater, the brothers say.

The 21-year-old students, known as Team Sentinel, are in their third year at Auckland University.

Jon studies mechanical engineering and Ben is studying mechatronics engineering.

But both are self-taught when it comes to creating games.

The boys spent a year and hundreds of hours working together on Echo.

"We would work 14-hour days on it in the weekends, get home from uni and work at 6pm then work on it until one in the morning," Jon says.

The hard slog continued after they won the national competition with another week of all-nighters to get a 10-page explanation of how they were going to take their game to market for the worldwide competition.

"We had to make a business plan and bio game software, which is something for the judges to actually play," he says.

Selection to the world finals would mean a trip to Seattle and a tour of Microsoft's headquarters while the final rounds of judging take place.

The prize is US$50,000 and Echo would be showcased at PAX, a series of gaming conventions held around the world.

There are three categories to the Imagine Cup competition: The gaming category, innovation category and the world citizenship category.

The world finals winner is chosen from the three categories and will have the opportunity to meet Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The Krebs say they will be entering the world citizenship category with a new project next year.

Eastern Courier