Students Participate in Annual Global Game Jam

News Story: January 27, 2017

Sacred Heart University students were among the many who gathered at the Ferguson Library in Stamford for the 2017 Global Game Jam the weekend of January 20-22. 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-creating challenge. Participants had the chance to network and experiment alongside professionals with a goal of creating a “wave”-themed game by Sunday.  

Robert McCloud, a professor in SHU's School of Computing, spoke at the event, listing a number of practical steps to take when doing 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. The quality of many of the games was high,” McCloud noted. “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 off the weekend brainstorming with his team of five. They spent Friday conceptualizing their game, “Wave Invaders,” followed by two days of 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!”

By 4 p.m. on Sunday, the finalized version of each game was due for submission. After all games were uploaded to the international web site, judges convened to assess the entrants. A total of five Sacred Heart students won awards.

Smith and his team, which included SHU’s Christopher Boolukos ’17 and grad student Aravind Ravikumar were recognized 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 the team of graduate student Sourabh Dadapure, received “Best Implementation of Global Theme,” and “Downtown Remix,” created by grad 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. 

Global Game Jam 1/21/17