ST. CLOUD - For the past several months, a group of South Junior High students have been creating a video game as a unique way to fundraise.

Under the guidance of their art teacher Mark Tinsley and St. Cloud State University professor Bruce Klemz, the students have finished a side-scrolling platformer called “Save my Dragon”. Music teacher Crystal Voderbruggen also helped students create music and sounds for the final product.

Dan DeBaun, WJON
Dan DeBaun, WJON

The game is for sale on iTunes ($1.99) and all money raised will go back to benefit the school.

"All of the money goes to the art program and school, so that's pretty cool-money will go towards buying art supplies," student Meredith Overman says.

Klemz, a marketing professor at SCSU, contributed technical skills and guidance towards crafting the game, while students came up with the story, character designs, platforms and backgrounds.

"The idea of a side-scroller quickly caught on. For the adventure concept, we went through a few versions of that, but once someone mentioned a dragon: that was pretty much the hook."

The game is about a young girl named Abby, who is being chased by monsters. She needs to collect potions and treasure items to save her dragon. The game is playable on a tablet or smart phone. You control Abby as she jumps through obstacles and dodges enemies.

Tinsley says "Save My Dragon" gave students a chance for hands-on art skills, while also learning math, programming and science. The artwork behind the game also had a much deeper meaning for many of the students involved.

"Art is like my therapy, so when I draw: I can draw however I'm feeling and get all of those emotions out," Overman says.

"Video games are practically my life, it's just great how you can play a game and escape for a while," fellow student Dakota Warner says.

"The time in class would go by so fast. We had to make sure that we weren't goofing around," Marianna Hollenkamp says.

While the project fundraises for the school, Tinsley says it was more important to give students another chance to express themselves. He hopes to continue incorporating projects like this in his future classes.

"For me, art has always been a safe place. It's been a place for me to express myself and that's what I try to pass on to the students as well," Tinsely says.

You can click here for a link to "Save My Dragon" on the iTunes store.