IS Students Judge Apps For LDSTech Conference

LDS Tech app

While watching her grandkids play with apps, Kris Bentley had an idea.

“Couldn’t there be something that connects them back to the gospel? As long as they’re going to be having screen time, let’s have something that is better,” Bentley says.

Bentley’s idea came to fruition with the inaugural Gospel App and Game Development Contest, held in conjunction with the 2014 LDSTech Conference. Bentley and her husband, Steve, organized the contest, which received eighty submissions from developers around the world. Apps were submitted for a variety of platforms, including Apple iOS, Android, Windows, or online.

Information systems students had the responsibility of judging the apps and games on a basis of usability, technical merit, visuals, and, of course, how fun they were to play. Weston Rhodes, a senior from southern California, was one of the judges of the competition.

“It was fun! We saw a lot of different apps,” Rhodes says. “There was everything from a 2-D platform game where you have to drag a stick figure to the iron rod to a 3-D open world game called Manna Mania based on the Old Testament.”

Bentley says that one of the best parts of being present for the judging was hearing the laughter in the room as the teams played the games. Sixty teams of two students spent an afternoon in the Tanner Building evaluating approximately five apps each. Once the students recorded their scores, the apps were presented to focus groups the next day for testing before the final results were presented.

To prepare for the judging, information systems professor Greg Anderson explains that students analyzed an LDS web game to create a baseline for accurate judging.

“The students determined how to evaluate software technically as well as in a way that is representative of the school and the church,” Anderson says.

Blaine Maxfield, CIO for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced the contest winners at the LDSTech Conference in Salt Lake City. Awards were announced for the top three apps in each category: primary, youth, and family. Eleven honorable mentions and three People’s Choice awards were also given.

If you want to get your hands on the apps, click here to see the winners and get links to all the submissions.