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Microsoft Imagine Cup Big Idea

Posted October 29, 2015

Pitch your great idea!

The Big Idea category is all about developing your project from an idea to a real product. We have three challenges to help you on your path to success, taking you through the basics of the software development life-cycle. You don’t need any coding experience to try your hand at these challenges; just grab a camera, some friends, and your own Big Idea!


You don’t have to compete in any of these challenges to make it to the World Finals, but each year we see World Finals teams that performed well in the Big Idea challenges. They’re not required but they’re strongly recommended!

Interested? Register for the Big Idea challenges now!

Big Idea: Pitch

Change your life in just three minutes. Are you dreaming of the next great technology innovation? Got an idea for a video game you just can’t stop thinking about? Have you looked at a global problem in the news and thought you had a solution?

Then set up a camera and start talking! Young software developers around the world are asked every year to pitch their project to investors, partners, customers, publishers, and even potential teammates. It’s how you share your vision, how you persuade people that you don’t just have the right idea. You’re also the right person to make it happen.

In this Imagine Cup global online challenge, record a video no longer than three minutes in which you and your team pitch your project. You, in front of a camera, telling your story, in any of our three competition paths: Games, Innovation, or World Citizenship.

Games: Have you been dreaming of the world’s most amazing game? Give us your concept! Pitch the game as though we’re a game publisher. What’s new? What’s your game’s market? What games is it like? Give us the ‘elevator pitch’ summary and get us as excited as you are!

Innovation: Maybe you have an idea that will shake things up. Pretend we’re a group of investors. Why is your idea new? What’s ground-breaking about it? How will it make money? What’s the long-term plan, and what are your next steps to bring it to market?

World Citizenship: You want to change the world. Tell us about it! What’s the problem you want to solve? What other solutions are out there? Who needs your solution, and why? Show us how well you understand the problem you want to tackle!

The winning team in each category will receive $3,000 (US). Ten runners-up in each category will receive a certificate of achievement and an exclusive Imagine Cup lapel pin to show the world you’re among the best.

These could be the most important three minutes of your life.
Make them awesome!

The Big Idea: Pitch Challenge ends on September 30th, 2015.

Big Idea: Plan

Don’t start coding without a map. You’ve got a great idea for a software project. But don’t start coding yet – first, take the time for a deep dive and build a project blueprint. Who will your users be? What are your top features? And finally, how will you get your project to market and make enough money for you to support it?

All these questions can be answered in your project blueprint. This is a five-to-ten page document where you start your journey into the Software Development Life Cycle. Once you put this together, you’ll have a road map for your project that you can share with team members, faculty advisors, and other people who can help you get where you’re going. You can use text, images, flowcharts, diagrams, and whatever else you need to tell your story. Choose one of our three competition paths: Games, Innovation, or World Citizenship.

Games: You’ve got a great game idea, but it’s just talk without a Game Design Document. Get hands-on with the details of your game — the story, the systems, and the overall gameplay. Make a plan of attack that will carry you through to a finished, polished game.

Innovation: Before you can take your idea to market, you need to know what your market is. Do the research, identify your users and their needs, solicit feedback, analyze the costs and projected revenue, and develop a plan to make your product a reality.

World Citizenship: If you want to change the world, you have to know what needs changing. For every problem, there’s a mountain of research, studies, analysis, and data. It’s time to dive into that data and come out with an argument for your proposed solution.

The winning team in each category will receive $3,000 (US). Nine runners-up in each category will receive a certificate of achievement and an exclusive Imagine Cup lapel pin to show the world you’re among the best. A total of thirty teams will win!

It’s all too easy for a team to jump in and start coding before they’re ready. Your project blueprint is how you can get your whole team set up for success. Get started!

Big Idea: Design

Between the user and your code lies your user experience. What’s the first thing that happens the first time a user launches your software? What about the next five minutes? The next hour? Can they use your software easily or is it too confusing? Can they find what they need? And how well can you utilize the user experience guidelines for Windows and Windows Phone in our new world of touch-centric devices?

For this challenge, your team will create these documents:

  • A hero scenario user flow diagram showing how your user will experience the most important functionality of your project.
  • An information architecture diagram showing how the core menu screens of your project connect to each other and what key user tasks are accomplished on each screen. If your project is a game, this diagram should cover the front end menus screens of your game as well as major screens accessible during gameplay such as a pause or options screen.
  • Two low-fidelity wireframes demonstrating two sample screens from your project, both of which should also appear in your information architecture diagram. If your project is a game, one wireframe should be from your front end menus and one should represent your core gameplay and in-game UI.
  • One high-fidelity visual target image showing an important screen from your wireframes, created at production quality. If your project is a game, this visual target should visualize your core gameplay.

Creating these documents will help you better plan your project and ensure you are not overlooking important features, while also giving you a clear visual target for your whole project to live up to.

Choose one of our three competition categories: Games, Innovation, or World Citizenship. The winning team in each category will receive $3,000 (US). Ten runners-up in each category will receive a certificate of achievement and an exclusive Imagine Cup lapel pin to show the world you’re among the best.

UX is the secret sauce that elevates everything you do with your project. Do it right, make it great, and unlock your project’s full potential!

Source: Microsoft

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