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PopCap Games turns 10-year-old into game developer

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Owain Weinert (PopCap Games)

Owain Weinert is ten years old -- and like  countless children his age, he plays lots of video games. He wants to make them, too, so he conceived and designed a title on his own.

For most kids, the story would end there. But Owain has leukemia. And with the help of the Make-A-Wish foundation, he got to spend some time with the developers at PopCap Games (Bejeweled, Plants Vs. Zombies) earlier this year, impressing the game makers so much that they developed the game he had conceived.

It went live on the App store Thursday.

"I have to say, my brother can't stop playing it, my dad can't stop playing it, and neither can I," said Owain, who originally created the game when he was nine. "This started off as a dream of mine, and now my friends and people all over the world can play my creation."

PopCap's 4th and Battery experimental label did the grunt work behind the game, dubbed 'Allied Star Police'. It's a side-scrolling arcade title that blends tower defense and real-time strategy. And it's actually a pretty fun.

This isn't a case of a company heavily padding a semblance of an idea from a game fan, either. Not only did Owain think out the game thoroughly (including backstory, unit names and even cheat codes), says PopCap, but he kept the team on track and stayed true to his vision.

"On the first day of PopCamp the team -- a producer, several developers, programmers and a musician -- invited Owain to our Seattle office to learn more about his idea for a video game," said PopCap on a site dedicated to Allied Star Police. "They were blown away when he came with a PowerPoint presentation and basically walked them through the game."

Though the initial plan was to make the game solely for Owain's enjoyment, the team liked what it saw and (with his assistance) polished it a bit more and released it to the App store as a free game.

Ironically, Owain didn't have an iOS device on which to play his creation. PopCap took care of that too, presenting him with a new iPad at the game's launch party.

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