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Five SHU Students Take Awards in Annual Global Game Jam

Professor McCloud speaks at event, serves as mentor

SHU students participate in the 2017 Global Game Jam at Stamford's Ferguson Library.

Five Sacred Heart University students were among the winners of the 2017 Global Game Jam January 20-22 at the Ferguson Library in Stamford. Organized by the Business Council of Fairfield County, the event encouraged game developers, tech enthusiasts and local talent to pursue their gaming interests by competing in a time-defined, game-creation challenge. Participants networked and experimented alongside professionals with a goal of creating a “wave”-themed game by the third day.

Robert McCloud, a professor in SHU’s School of Computing, spoke at the event, listing a number of practical steps for rapid-game development. He remained on site with the young developers, serving as mentor for the weekend.

“I wanted the participants to learn that with concentration and planning, you can complete a worthwhile project in a limited time span,” McCloud noted. “The quality of many of the games was high. Further, the emphasis on prototypes means that each team can regard its game as one stage in prototype development. Even though it works and is playable, they can come back to it and continuously improve.”

Patrick Smith ’17, one of the participants from SHU, started the weekend brainstorming with his team of five. They spent Friday conceptualizing their game, “Wave Invaders,” used the next two days for development and execution.

“Initially we assigned ourselves to different positions in the group, but we sort of jumped around from place to place as the weekend went on,” he said.  “I spent the weekend as both the graphic artist and an ‘assistant programmer’ when no one else knew how to get past a certain roadblock while coding. I would say that I performed both roles very well for going to Game Jam for the first time!”

Once all teams submitted their final versions,  the games were uploaded to the international website and judges convened to assess the entries. Smith and his team, which included SHU’s Christopher Boolukos ’17 and graduate student Aravind Ravikumar, won the award for “Best Animated Graphics.”

“The entire event was a learning experience for me, and it was all very enjoyable. If there was anything that I learned from it, I think it would be to keep your group organized and that you should make the bare essentials of the game before making all the extra gimmicks to go along with it. Also, prioritization is key when you’re under a strict time limit,” said Smith.

“Snuggle Smugglers,” from a team that included graduate student Sourabh Dadapure, received “Best Implementation of Global Theme,” and “Downtown Remix,” created by graduate student Vishnu Sai Reddy Chundi and his team, earned “Best Level Design.”

“Each of our students did a professional, creative job in the competition,” said McCloud.

To view additional photos from the Annual Global Game Jam, click here