Utah’s digital media pipeline is helping  propel new game design and development through contests like the 2013 Utah Game  Wars. Up-and-coming entrepreneurs, designers and engineers gathered at the new  Adobe Systems Complex, in Lehi, Utah on June 25 for the final judging and an  awards ceremony for their innovative and creative games.

Eight finalists,  pre-selected from a pool of over 40 entries, showcased their games and competed  in either the best-unreleased or best-released category. Representatives from  Utah’s game development industry judged the entries based on potential  commercial appeal.

“The eight finalists were a good cross-section of the  budding digital media talent in Utah”, says T. Craig Bott, President and CEO of  Grow Utah Ventures. “Utah is fast becoming known for a vibrant digital media and  entertainment industry. The state is at the forefront of the industry with  innovative technologies, attracting new businesses and promoting world-class  education.”

Club Dino developedby Marv Entertainment is a  family friendly mobile device game specifically targeted for children and won  best-unreleased game and a $15,000 cash prize. Club Dino lets users hatch and  train dinosaurs using voice and touch commands giving the caveman a new  adventure when he discovers a nest of dinosaur eggs.

“Utah Games wars is an amazing forum that highlights and rewards original ideas  being developed right here in Utah,” said David Wilson, producer and animator at  Marv Entertainment. “We are very grateful to the Grow Utah Ventures’ sponsors  for the $15,000 prize. Our team of artists, technicians, producers, and  programmers has been working on this game as a labor of love.”

Magnetic  by Nature, a game from Tripleslash Studios in Salt Lake City won  the first place honor for best-released game and took home a $10,000 cash prize.  The game was also selected as the crowd favorite at the event and received an  additional $500 prize. Built as a puzzle platform two-dimensional video game  Magnetic by Nature players progress through levels by manipulating  magnetic fields.

“The largest portion will be used to purchase targeted internet advertising, to participate in local promotional events, and to attend major national games festivals,” said Paige Ashlynn, a developer for Magnetic by Nature. ” Our research indicates that this last element is probably the most important in building a larger audience for our game.”

The game began as a student project at the University of  Utah Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program, which was recently  recognized by the Princeton Review as the top undergraduate and second-best  graduate program for gaming design.

The competition was a Concept to  Company event organized and hosted by Grow Utah Ventures, Utah Valley University  (UVU), UVU Business Resource Center, and Zions Bank. Sponsors of the contest  include the Utah Science and Technology initiative (USTAR), Disney Interactive,  EA Salt Lake, Smartbomb Interactive, Eat Sleep Play, Wahoo Studios, Chair  Entertainment, and Adobe.

“The goal of the Utah Game Wars was to  stimulate creativity and job creation in the exceptionally high-paying digital  media and gaming industry,” said Steve Roy, associate vice president of economic  development at UVU and USTAR regional technology outreach director. “Many gaming  studios have grown from small independent shops to major players in Utah over  the years and we want to encourage more of the same behavior.”

The  Concept to Company competitions are ongoing entrepreneur contests held in  various regions across the State of Utah. Organized by the non-profit Grow Utah  Ventures, the main objectives of the contests are to encourage and support  Utah’s entrepreneurial innovators with the intent of helping them bring concepts  to the marketplace. Competitions are held in all regions of the state with each  competition focusing on the unique entrepreneurial strengths of that region. To  date, over $6200,000 in cash and services have been awarded and  nearly 90 entrepreneurs helped across 12 different contests