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In the Loop
General News : Sep 18, 2018

"Perfect recipe" for creating video games

Digital Worlds partners with Computer & Information Science & Engineering for summer Game Things event

By Tori Chin (BSPR ‘21)

Creating video games requires multidisciplinary work, and engineers and artists are integral parts of the process.

The Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Department and the Digital Worlds Institute (DW) collaborated to share the process with UF students during the new Game Things 2018 two-part series.

“Both departments have a special relationship with each other,” said Justin Marlin, Assistant Director for Student Services & Administration for DW. “When you put both student bodies together, it’s the perfect recipe to make a video game from the ground up.”

The Creative B summer programming, funded by the UF Office of the Provost, sponsored both Gator Game Jam on July 13 through 15 and Gator Game Bash on Aug. 4. Corporate sponsors for the event included Studio Wildcard and Insomniac Games. Intel also donated raffle prizes for the events.

“Gator Game Jam was a huge success,” Marlin said. “It seems like all the students had a blast. The judges said many times that these were the best video games they’ve seen built at a game jam before.”

Over 55 students were involved in Gator Game Jam’s 40-hour team-based video game development competition that looked at game design, game art and game engineering.

“Games without carefully crafted art are unappealing,” said Jeremiah Blanchard, CISE assistant engineer. “By coming together, engineering students from CISE and digital arts students from DW were able to create deeper, more compelling artifacts than they could do alone.”

Eight games were submitted at the end of the competition, and a game called AstroBoi won. The game involves an astronaut with a jetpack who must avoid approaching masses of space trash while collecting oxygen and fuel containers.

“In the end, we had several great games created by the teams,” Blanchard said.  He and co-judges Nick Heitzman and Joshua Fox found judging the event “incredibly difficult because of all the fantastic work students did.”

Gator Game Bash, the second Game Things 2018 event, was a large video game tournament with games such as Nintendo Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart and Madden Football.

The two departments expect to pursue many collaborations like this in the future.

“We are pleased with the collaborative spirit of the faculty, staff and students who created and attended these initial Game Things events,” DW Director James Oliverio said. “This spirit exemplifies both the interdisciplinary R&D mindset at UF as well as the significant trends in the creative industries that our students are preparing to build their careers in.”

Blanchard said, “The most important lesson we hope students will—and which we believe they did—take away from this event is how to work across divergent creative disciplines to create something unique and compelling.