Video Gamers Get Creative

January 30, 2014

By Savannah Jones “14

Fueled by caffeine and pizza, interactive media majors and other Bradley students pushed through long days and sleepless nights January 24-26 to create their own video game for the sixth annual Global Game Jam.

Gamers across the world were given the same theme and 48-hours to design, bring to life a finished product and upload it to Jam’s website for recognition. Game Design Assistant Professor Monica McGill introduced Bradley students to the activity three years ago and participation has steadily risen. The first year seven students were involved but this year 27 students camped out at the Global Communications Center for the weekend. 

“It’s a great experience. There’s so much learning about deadlines and scoping game applications for time,” McGill said. “There’s low risk if they fail and there’s not any stress. It’s a fantastic experience compressed into about 40 hours.”

After an introductory video encouraging gamers to embrace risk-taking and innovation, students broke into teams to tackle this year’s theme, “We don’t see things as they are but we see them as we are.”

A vague theme could have discouraged some, but junior interactive media major Heath Moore said it forced his group to “think outside the box.” Moore and his group’s game allowed the player to take on the role of a mercenary equipped with a special camera for uncovering secrets. Moore’s teammate senior interactive major Dillion Jacobs was thankful his interactive media classes enabled him to “jump in quickly” with the theme and new programming.

Senior interactive media major Joe Ruel spent four to five hours brainstorming with his group before deciding on their game, which required a player to travel through a young child’s imagination as a spaceman collecting rocket fuel.

Sophomore physics and mathematics major Casey Gravele and his team’s game focused on a man named Larry and his quest to save his friend, a pig also named Larry.

“It’s a unique challenge with only 48-hours to build a game to function and entertain but it prepares you for work,” Gravele said. “Classes at Bradley start with the basics and progress with field specific experience.”

Students don’t receive an actual reward or prize for their work, but a padded portfolio is worth a sacrificed weekend. With last weekend’s lessons, students will be able to apply their hands-on experiences when it comes to the job hunt after graduation.

“I can definitely tell people when I’m looking for a job that I’ve actually made a game; I can show off,” sophomore computer science major Dylan O’Quinn said.