Playing video games for a college application

As a senior in high school, [Owen] has been waiting to hear from the colleges he applied to for months now. Some of his applications wanted a mid-year report to see if he didn’t come down with senioritis. [Owen] realized these colleges allowed additional materials beyond a high school transcript, so he built a tiny video game that shows his electrical and programming skills.

The Demomite, as [Owen] calls his build, is an amazing piece of work. The entire system is based around an ATtiny2313 with a measly 2kB of program memory. Aside from a graphic LCD from Sparkfun and a repurposed NES controller, there isn’t much else to the build. As a study in minimalism and simplicity, [Owen] gets a big congrats from us.

The entire game fits in the 2kB of flash on the ATtiny, mostly due to coding the entire thing in assembly. You can check out [Owen]‘s time-lapse construction video, software demo, and the video he sent to colleges after the break.


  1. Conner Smith says:

    This is awesome! But, let’s be honest. In my opinion some of his other projects are better. Like connecting a hard drive to a micro controller. Although, from a hackers perspective, this isn’t his coolest project but from a non-hackers perspective it is. So, good move. :)

  2. mess_maker says:

    Good job! I wish I had spent more time learning electronics when I was younger.

  3. Matthias Welsh says:

    Welp, congrats man. You have a better understanding of a breadth of EE concepts then a lot of the undergrads I was in senior design with. Some club (go robotics man, the AUVSI events are a blast) is going to be under the impression you’re the second coming of Christ when you show up.

  4. Arnuschky says:

    Wow, that’s a hell of solder fume evac! Love the timelaps…

  5. Asphixiate says:

    Well done sir

  6. moser says:

    You probably have a better grasp on avrs than most professors and students from my university.

  7. Liard Nelson says:

    We can’t hire you, assembler is outdated, we are looking more for a java guy… :)

  8. owen says:

    @nelson – My skills with Java rival my skills in assembler, and I could use the money…

    @others – Thanks for the wonderful feedback.

  9. asheets says:

    Out of curiosity, which universities did [Owen] apply to that want mid-term application updates? That’s something I’ve never heard of before…

  10. anonymous says:

    I really wanted to do a project like this for my college applications, but none of the ones I applied to will even accept it. I’m extremely afraid I won’t stand out.

  11. birdhall says:

    I’m under the impression you don’t even need to go to college.

    But then again, a piece of paper means a whole lot in our world..

  12. Cosmic R says:

    I’m amazed Owen is able to work in such a tiny area – my workbench is 3 times as big and I still run out of space!

  13. Alex Rossie says:

    I can understand why he needs this, 20seconds into his video his monotone voice has put me to sleep! interviews are not your friend my man!

    • owen says:

      Yeah, I have great trouble presenting stuff in videos and to audiences. However, if I’m actually face-to-face with another person like in an interview I easily lose the monotone. Interviews have been my greatest asset in applying to college. They offer a precious chance to personally claw your way into the minds of the application folks.

    • Chris says:

      Criticizing his tone of voice? Haters gotta hate, I guess.

      Awesome hack, Owen. Ignore tools like Alex there.

  14. Gdogg says:

    Screw this guy. When I was finishing high school I was writing simple qbasic games or making text-based prompts in C.

    I wish I got started a lot earlier.

  15. joe gentile says:


  16. stagleton says:

    Look up the creator of Spotify. sounds like college will be boring/pointless. it looks like you can learn what you need on your own

  17. mykeyfinn says:

    Yeah but to get the money you need to start said endeavors is either come by luck or having a good “main job” to supply the funds to play about. Hell everyone says an Arduio is “cheap” and yet still outta my price range. College is a good thing.

    • stagleton says:

      Really? Arduino is pretty cheap compared to college unless you get a really good scholarship or have taken enough AP classes so that it only takes 2 years or less. IIT has all their engineering lectures online for free. If you are clever enough you don’t need to go to college and it will just be a waste of time; most of us need to go to college…

  18. katsu says:

    Congratulations, Owen@MIT.

    Well done.

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