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January 23, 2009

48 Hours Till Gametime: UMBC Students to Cram, Compete in Global Video Game Design Contest

"Global Game Jam" at UMBC January 30 - February 1

Media Contact:
Chip Rose, UMBC Science/Tech News

College students are notoriously voracious video game players. It’s not unusual for an entire weekend to be consumed trying to solve the challenges of the latest, hottest title.

But on the final weekend of January, students at UMBC will be spending 48 hours feverishly brainstorming and creating their own unique games as part of the Global Game Jam on January 30 – February 1.

UMBC is the only Baltimore-area host site for the Global Game Jam, a two-day game development contest sponsored by the International Game Developers Association. The Jam gives college students at 52 sites from 20 countries just 48 hours to brainstorm, pitch ideas, form teams and roll up their sleeves to produce the best game possible within the time limit of 5 p.m. on Friday, January 30 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 1.

“The Jam brings the global community together to see what kinds of games small teams can develop in 48 short hours,” said Marc Olano, director of UMBC’s Games, Animation and Interactive Media (GAIM) Program and associate professor of computer science. “Given the time limit, I expect short, unique, and creative ideas; with luck the kind of game that makes you sit up and say, ‘Wow, that's cool!’”

gunther2.PNG Photo Caption: A screen grab from "Gunther," a game under development by a team including UMBC students.

The GAIM Program at UMBC combines the serious coursework and creativity required for a career in video game development, animation and other interactive media. The program brings together computer science and visual arts majors for a rigorous academic foundation followed by final team projects modeled after how real-world companies develop new games. Skills learned in the GAIM Program can also be used in aerospace, healthcare, architecture and many other career fields beyond gaming.

Photo Caption: Screen grabs from other UMBC-student developed games: "Gwain" (top) and "Scarred Steel." gwain_small.png scarred_steel_small.jpg

“I really look forward to working with people from diverse backgrounds - peers as well as industry professionals - to make a game,” said Lesa Wilcox, president of the UMBC Game Developer’s Club and a senior Visual Arts major from Linthicum, Md. “The Global Game Jam is a great chance for us to network and showcase our skills, but also to just have a lot of fun.”

The Game Developer’s Club at UMBC consists of students from the GAIM Program and any students interested in designing, developing and even starting companies around their own game ideas. One of the club’s spring semester projects is “Gunther,” a 3-D, third-person action game about a mercenary eliminating demons from a small town.

Kyle Gabler, the independent developer of the popular game “World of Goo,” will kick off the Global Game Jam with a global keynote address via streaming video to over 1,000 participants in 22 countries on Jan. 30.

“The next big transformation in gaming won't come from a large game studio with million dollar teams and marketing budgets. It will come from some kid in their bedroom with a few pieces of free software and a never ending supply of caffeine and motivation,” said Gabler in a press release. “I can't wait to see the scraggly, brilliantly hacked-together beginnings of some of the next great games crawl out of these 48 hours.”

There is no registration fee for the Baltimore Jam site at UMBC, but space is limited so advance registration is required. Gabler’s keynote address and the weekend wrap-up will be in Lecture Hall V in the UMBC Engineering and Computer Science building. Game development will take place in the GAIM lab, Room 005a of the Engineering and Computer Science building.

Completed games are due to the judges by 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 1. Final game presentations begin at 4 p.m. on February 1 in Lecture Hall V (UMBC Engineering & Computer Science Building.)

Note to Media: Links to download higher-resolution versions of images in this release:

Posted by crose at January 23, 2009 10:57 AM