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GameFest 2012 at Rensselaer Expands to a Regional Reach

Wed, 2012-04-25 00:00 -- katzme

More Than 40 Entries Designed By Students of Rensselaer, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Champlain College

April 25, 2012

Get ready for the biggest GameFest yet, as the annual showcase of student-designed video games grows to include more than 40 entries from students of the Rensselaer Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program, as well as game design programs at Rochester Institute of Technology and Champlain College.

“This year's GameFest will feature both some of the most polished, professional games and some of the most thought-provoking games we've seen yet,” said Ben Chang, associate professor of arts and co-director of the GSAS program at Rensselaer. “Some of the new ideas and technologies that we'll see include brain control interfaces, Kinect games, real-time fluid simulations, and games to teach programming to kids. There will be games made by teams of half a dozen or more students and games created by solo auteurs. We’ll see games that are epic in scope and games that, like good poems, are short but pack a great emotional punch.”

Symposium
Following the juried exhibition of video games, a symposium will feature keynote Richard Vogel, the executive producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic, a production of LucasArts and BioWare/Electronic Arts, according to Lee Sheldon, associate professor in the Department of Communication and Media and co-director of GSAS.

Vogel will then be joined for a panel discussion by Jennifer O’Neal of Vicarious Visions/Activision, Richard Rouse of Paranoid Productions/UbiSoft, and Tobi Saulnier, founder of 1st Playable Productions and a Rensselaer graduate.

The juried exhibition of student work, in combination with speakers and panels headed by leading game designers and scholars, is a glimpse into the future of video games and simulation, and an opportunity for students to network with prospective employers, and to size up one another’s work.


Student Game Demonstration and Competition
The games expo will be held Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center (the Armory) on the Rensselaer campus.

As part of the expo, 40 games will compete for cash prizes in an exhibition juried by Vicarious Visions, an Albany, N.Y., company founded by brothers Karthik Bala, RPI ’97, and Guha Bala.

“Gamefest is a showcase of student innovation and creativity in games and simulations, ranging from demonstrations of cutting-edge graphics techniques, to educational games for children in developing countries,” said Chang.

Entries include:

Number Mission” (Maria Montenegro) is an educational game that uses the Kinect to teach young children about math and environmental issues. 

Zineth” (Tom Astle, Jacob Knipfing, Russell Honor, Tom Lanciani, Evan Gonzales, Dan Spaulding, and Sylvia Forrest) is a strikingly original retro-themed game that manages to encompass skating games, ’80s zine culture, and cellphone addiction.

The Hold” (Anton Hand, Adam Liszkiewicz) mixes mind-bending, Escher-esque puzzle levels with a heavy dose of psychological space and a twist ending that you’ll have to play to experience. This project also introduces an unusual approach to real-time lighting and materials that may just revolutionize the way that small indie teams tackle AAA-quality productions.

The Gods are Dead” ( Dan Hawkins, Beth Werbaneth, Beth Towns, Colin Neville, Rosa Tung) mines Greek mythology to create a complex and irreverent 2 versus 2 multiplayer game.

MindEscape” (Nick Steele, Andrew “Wash” Uhmeyer, Michael Williams, Josh Zygman) is a three-dimensional virtual environment game where one’s thoughts – read through a NeuroSky Mindwave EEG headset – literally control the game play. The game takes place in the mind of a young boy who is escaping his harsh outside reality by retreating to the world within his own head. The project’s long-term goal is to help increase concentration and also to promote a calm state of mind for anger management techniques

The Fall” (Kevin Todisco, Erin McQuade) is a deceptively simple game that will leave you breathless, and not just because it's a game entirely about running down stairs. 

“Flash Mob-ster” ( Phelan Lemieux, Tyler Moylan, Kyle Johnsen, Brett Kaplan, Paul M. Kelly Jr. ) is a new twist on the music game genre that uses your own music collection, has environments that react to sound, and, in a feat of split coordination and rhythm, asks you to play two completely different kinds of games simultaneously.

The Background
GameFest is hosted by the GSAS program at Rensselaer. The GSAS program was launched in the fall of 2007 to provide comprehensive understanding of interactive digital media, a balance of disciplinary competencies, and the mastery of a self-defined set of interrelated disciplinary challenges at the nation’s oldest technical institute. GSAS has been named among the top 15 out of 150 undergraduate game design programs in the United States and Canada, according to a recent survey from the Princeton Review. The program graduated its first full class in May 2011.

“GameFest is a collaboration between Rensselaer and local game development companies, and brings leading game designers and scholars to campus for the afternoon symposium,” Chang said. “With the addition of RIT and Champlain, GameFest has a wider impact and more effectively promotes the game development community throughout the region.” 

GameFest 2012 is sponsored by Vicarious Visions, as well as 1st Playable Productions, Agora Games, Harmonix, The Game Studio, Games That Work, Rensselaer, and RIT.

For more information on GameFest, including the schedule of events and registration for the symposium, visit the GameFest page on the GSAS website.

Contact: Mary L. Martialay
Phone: (518) 276-2146
E-mail: martim12@rpi.edu