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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth


A modeling and simulation doctoral student has created an algorithm to turn a locally developed board game into an iPhone app that plays like the popular Words With Friends at lightning speed.

Kris Wright said the classes in modeling, simulation and visualization engineering he has taken at ODU have proven invaluable in the creation of the app, which has been downloaded about 20 times a day since being introduced in late November.

The game, known as Rojo, was invented around the kitchen table by Virginia Beach family game-making company ZiggityZoom. The company, launched in 2008, previously had success creating a number of family-oriented websites.

Its latest venture, Rojo, was conceived as a dice game, where participants would attempt to rapidly make words with the letter combinations that appeared with each roll. The game was being considered by commercial companies, but a fortuitous meeting at a Start Norfolk event for entrepreneurs at Innovation Research Park @ ODU linked Wright up with the game developers, and took Rojo in an entirely new direction.

Instead of rolling dice to create letter combinations, they are generated automatically inside the iPhone and iPad app.

"It really involved thinking about the game in a different way," Wright said about creating the app.

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