One of the biggest highlights of this years X07 Canada wasn’t the power outage or the illegal street racing (more to come on those later, I promise) but the work of 10th grade student from Toronto’s own Western Technical-Commerical School, David Hu.

WarPong is exactly what it sounds like, and that’s a very good thing. Think Pong, but armed to the teeth. In addition to bouncing the ball back and forth a la Tennis for Two, your paddle is weaponed up and ready to dispose of the opposing paddle as best it can. Power-ups cause the size of the paddles and their weapons to grow, providing a surprisingly fresh experience for a title that until now had been done to death.

The real story though isn’t about WarPong as much as it is about XNA. Microsoft has been beating their chest about the flexibility and accessibility of XNA for a while now, and it seems as though at X07 they set out to prove it. WarPong, one of three XNA demos on show at X07, was developed by a 10th grader. Not only that, but it was designed by a 10th grader to be a multi-platform title. That’s right — WarPong is Games for Windows ready.

Speaking with Mark Relph, Vice President of the Developer & Platform Evangelism Group for Microsoft Canada (best job title EVER) it becomes clear to me that this is the way of the future — developing titles simultaneously with the same code rather than writing and rewriting for different platforms. Being able to do so for Games For Windows and the 360 simulataneously is one thing, but if Microsoft can somehow branch out past their own two SKU’s to include non-proprietary platforms XNA may turn into a whole lot more than a playground for hobbyists and indie developers. (It should be noted that Mark did not in any way suggest that this was the plan, but as far as a business strategy goes it would make a hell of a lot of sense).

Before we left, we were lucky enough to catch a real brief video of Xav getting schooled at WarPong by a 10th grader (albeit the one who designed the game).


My apologies for the poor video quality (it gets pretty watchable about half way through), but at least it gives you a bit of a glimpse at what WarPong is all about. No word on whether or not this will actually be coming to XBLA, but as far as a demo showcasing the accessibility of XNA goes this thing is the bees knees.

EDIT: Sorry, just too amusing not to share. This kid comes up with a version of Pong in which guns are strapped to the paddles, and he comes from the only school in Canada I’ve heard of to practice “lockdown drills” after Virginia Tech. God bless Wikipedia, it’s a fountain of ironic information.