University News

WIU CS Graduate Student Pays Homage to Mascot with Mobile Gaming App

December 11, 2017


Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – In his spare time, Western Illinois University School of Computer Sciences graduate student Dalo Chinkhwangwa, originally from Malawi, decided to further hone the skills learned in the classroom by creating a new mobile game app that celebrates his school and its beloved mascot.

After a year in the making, Chinkhwangwa debuted "Rocky Run" Dec. 10 in the Google Play Store (http://bit.ly/2BA3V1Q). The animated game features a likeness of the WIU bulldog mascot, Rocky, running down a busy "WIU-themed" street, football in paw, leaping over cars, trucks and buses (which bear a striking resemblance to Go West buses). The object of the game is to make Rocky "jump" – a la Mario style – over the vehicular obstacles in his path, which go faster and faster as the game continues.

"I was looking for something that would show my pride in the school. I thought this was a great way to put those skills I learned in the classroom into practice to further build my vita," he explained.

Most of the time, Chinkhwangwa -- who will graduate this weekend with his master's degree in computer science -- worked on "Rocky Run" while sitting in the comfort of his living room, after his school work was completed for the day. He built the game from scratch, using animation and other codes, testing each component along the way.

Computer Sciences Professor Justin Ehrlich said the School of Computer Science is proud of Chinkhwangwa for creating such a well-designed game.

"He is an enthusiastic computer science student, who loves programming, and he's especially talented at programming interactive graphics and games," Ehrlich added. "Dalo used the content learned in a number of WIU's courses to program the game, develop the graphics, and to create a high score function that is shared with every other player. We are really excited about the launch of a student-created game."

Chinkhwangwa, who earned his undergraduate degree in applied computer science from Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, found his way to Western thanks to his sister. While he was still in Malawi, his sister, who lives in Ohio, began researching schools on his behalf. He looked closely at WIU and thought it looked like a welcoming university, so he applied and the rest is history. Chinkhwangwa credits his faith, along with his WIU professors, for motivating him to succeed.

"Dr. Ehrlich is passionate about the field and his computer graphics class motivated me to create this game on my own to refine my skills," he added.

While Chinkhwangwa has created other video games, this is the first he has officially released for download through a vendor like Google Play. His career aspirations after walking across the stage at commencement this weekend include computer programming and video game design.

"I learned so much at Western," he added. "I've had wonderful professors and gained so much experience."

The game can be found at the Google Play Store by searching "Rocky Run." The individual with the highest score by midnight Jan. 1, will win a WIU-themed prize from University Relations.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations