By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist best known for his comical chain reaction invention cartoons. For 60-plus years his work was published daily in hundreds of newspapers and magazines and the popularity of his absurdly complex inventions inspired people to create crazily complicated machines of their own, to accomplish a simple and often wacky task.
The collaboration sees the partners launching a new contest to bring the zany joy of building Rube Goldberg machines to students, hobbyists, game developers and creators of real-time 3D content. The contest invites users to use Epic’s Unreal Engine, to create a functioning Rube Goldberg machine as an interactive 3D experience.
Jennifer George, Chief Creative Officer at The Rube Goldberg Institute, says the contest is a perfect way for the youth to demonstrate creativity and engineering skills using Unreal Engine, the real-time 3D creation tool used by developers to build high- quality games and interactive content across virtually any platform, including PC, mobile, console, VR, and AR.
“Our brand has become more and more relevant to Gen Z, with over 550M posts on TikTok for #rubegoldberg and more than a billion across all social platforms,” said George. “Through our partnerships with NASEF and Minecraft, and the popularity of our online Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, the brand is well established in the digital world. This new collaboration with the Unreal Engine team at Epic Games is an exciting teaching tool that readies next generation problem solvers with 21st Century skills.”
The deal was put together by Brand Central, one of the world’s largest brand licensing agencies, who represent the Rube Goldberg Institute, Mars Wrigley, and Mister Rogers Neighbourhood, among many other brands.
Through the release of the new Unreal Learning Kit: Rube Goldberg Machines, anyone can access free lessons to learn how to build virtual contraptions in Unreal Engine. The learning kit provides an easy entry point to using Unreal Engine in a fun and engaging way, and the step-by-step activities make it easy for educators to bring Unreal Engine into their classroom. The competition will provide an opportunity for students or hobbyists to demonstrate their creativity based on the tech skills they acquire along the way.
The Unreal Engine Rube Goldberg pack is available to download on PC and Mac and is free to use. Everything one needs to get started can be found on the Unreal Developer Community Hub.
The deal follows the recent release of Unreal Engine 5.2, which adds even more authentic image creation tools to a design suite that is already the world leader for console and PC video games. Unreal Engine was created by Epic Games, which also produces Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular games.