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      Programming to 1st Place

      Have you ever had to program your video game to play it?

      Well, on Saturday, about 200 students did just that for the 6th Annual BonzAI Brawl at Michigan Tech University; students played a computer game about ducks all day for the competition.

      Sounds fun, right? Well, there was a catch.

      "People are writing programs to control a team of farmhands that are trying to herd their ducks into their coop before night falls," says the games designer, John Earnest.

      Students program the actual characters for every movement while dealing with obstacles like water and ducks on the run. Itâ??s comparable to a cooking competition. All the participants are told to make one "meal," and then theyâ??re given a book filled with ingredients to do so. Then itâ??s up to the teams to make their "meal" the tastiest.

      "Itâ??s just applying what they give you, then writing this all from scratch," says Northern Michigan University junior, Kurt Kipela.

      But it isn't that easy, and Benjamin Fedorka knows just how tough the coding competition can get.

      "Iâ??ve been doing these six years now," says Fedorka. "It's been fantastic...but Iâ??ve never won."

      "Maybe sixth time's the charm," he adds.

      As for the programmers who do win, they walk away with a plush duck, 3D trophy and lastly, the best prize of all...pride.