Eli Aldinger's mom doesn't need to scold him for playing video games instead of doing his homework. For Eli, gaming is his homework. But before you ask if you can be adopted into the Aldinger family, know this: 16-year-old Eli, who is enrolled in an online high school that offers an array of design and programming classes, was just named one of eight winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge. He took home the top prize in the "Playable Game -- GameMaker" category for his innovative game "New World," beating out nearly 4,000 other students.
"New World" stands outs because it combines two styles of games: role-playing games (or RPGs) and platform games. The game's main character -- a miniature head with feet who has been shipwrecked on an island -- must rebuild his ship by scurrying across the screen, jumping over obstacles and picking up things he needs. This is the platform element (if you've ever played "Mario Kart," you're familiar with the set-up). But platform games don't typically include role-playing, which is what makes "New World" special.
The contest will reward Eli with a new laptop loaded with game-design software so that he can continue to develop newer, more complex games. Eli hopes to start his own game development company after college, according to The Columbian.
Carter Gerritson, a teen from Sioux City, Iowa, also took home a National STEM Video Game Challenge prize for Playable Game -- Gamestar Mechanic. His original game, "Earth 2112," takes place in a post-apocalyptic world after the human race has disappeared. According to the game's comments online, "Earth 2112" is "the best game ever" and "absolutely epic!" (Gamers can test out Carter's creation here!)
Are you a big gamer? Have you ever thought about developing your own games? Watch a walk-through of Eli's game below, and tweet your thoughts on #NewWorld @HuffPostTeen!
CORRECTION:A previous version of this story indicated that Eli was from Canada. In fact, he is from Vancouver, Washington.