Local boys advise Angry Birds creators

Deborah Wheeler/The Sun
Some local young men recently traveled to Ireland to advise creators of the game Angry Birds on what young people want in games.

Two local boys traveled from the Emerald Coast to the Emerald Isle to tell video game makers how to make more greenbacks.

Local teens Carlton Ragsdale and Max Trussell traveled to Ireland in late July to help out the developers of the video game Angry Birds. The boys are students at Ohana Institute in Rosemary Beach and avid video game players. They were selected by the school to do a presentation on educational software and help beta test some of the company's new games. They presented in front of 60 or so people who were with the investment company at a think-tank conference.

Carlton said he and his friend Max were chosen because they are the biggest nerds at their school — a title Carlton says he wears with pride.

"I spend much more time in front of the computer than I probably should," he confesses. "And I spend a lot of time in line at stores trying to pick up a game. It's what I enjoy."

Carlton said the company wanted his opinion on educational gaming as someone who plays a lot of games.

"I told them that educational gaming's priority should be to make it fun and educational. A text-book game is not fun," he said.

Carlton says he has played video games for most of his 16 years.

This was his first visit to Ireland. While there he got to see Dublin, which he says is a big and busy city with a lot of things to do. They also toured a bit of the countryside.

"I definitely liked it. Max and I walked all over. It was pouring down rain, but I was raised in south Alabama and Florida and it was interesting to see Ireland's big green fields and monastery ruins. It was cool," he said.

The boys were accompanied on the trip by their teachers, and the founder and director of Ohana, Lettye Burgtorf, and her family.

In addition to the insight he imparted to those he spoke to, Carlton said he also gained something valuable from the experience.

"When I got done with my presentation my teachers said we were best in show. I thought they were just being nice until we got a job offer as consultants. I gained a lot of self confidence and self esteem from the experience," he said.

“I was very proud of them,” said Burgtorf.

While he may do some consulting in the future, Carlton said his desire is to attend the School of Art and Design in Savannah and design video games.

His dad, Mike Ragsdale called the trip "an incredible opportunity."