|Posted on April 16, 2012 at 11:10 AM|
Singapore's National Infocomm Competition (NIC for short) is a collection of IT challenges targeted at the secondary and tertiary student crowd. It's the latest in a series of initiatives designed to encourage the nation's young startups to delve into infocomm, so that Singapore can get a foot in the exploding infocomm industry. ('Infocomm' in Singaporean Political English means 'anything related to computers.') It may sound boring, but it's a fairly exciting prospect when you're an executive council member of your school's infocomm club; when everyone is looking for graduates with your precise skill set, you can't help but crack a smile.
Today was the prize presentation ceremony of the NIC. My club was first in the secondary school category by a significant margin; after outright winning half the previous year's competitions and placing high in the other half, any judge would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. This achievement earned us S$2000 (US$1600), a stack of Chinese mobile phones, far too many copies of Adobe Photoshop Elements CS5 to count.... oh, and an all-expenses-paid tour of Silicon Valley for the entire ExCo of the club. As you can imagine, winning a trip to the United States is pretty exciting for a kid who hasn't ever seen snow.
This isn't the first time the club has aced the NIC. Our school has consistently crushed the opposition since the 1980s, and we've basically won everything, everywhere for as long as I can recount. This is all well and good for us, but it worries me when I think about the standard of some of our submissions. When I paired up with a friend of mine to compete in the Mobile Animation Challenge 2011, we literally did nothing until the very last day before the competition, during which we whipped up a cheesy animation and a 'booth' made out of a dustbin plus two pieces of green paper. Guess what? We defeated the other competitors anyway, obtaining second place and a really big cheque for the records. Their submissions were worse than our six-hour work. The animation in first place wasn't much better than our last-minute effort either.
Taking a tour through my club's recent accomplishments reveals that our submissions are mediocre at best. Maybe it's just me being a perfectionist square when it comes to design, but I notice flaws in every little animation quirk, buggy coding in our Flash games that could be better executed, and absolutely horrendous art assets that manage to get into the final submission. As design head of the club, it's my job to make our stuff look nice... which is pretty disheartening when stuff like this can dominate a nationwide competition. What does this say about the standard of the rest of the island? Or even about the judges of the competition in question?
Is this their frame of reference?
Call it artist rage, but there's a threshold where the argument "But we're just kids..." no longer applies. I'm honestly shocked that some of the poor workmanship I see in the competitions we attend even makes it into the finals. I want to compete among equals, rather than among people who have no idea what they're doing. When my club wins, I want us to win because our work is truly the best, and not because we're bad and everyone else is worse.
*sigh* This is what you get when you blog at midnight.
At least there's a trip to the US to look forward to...