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Game on

Susan Gold, William Manning, Tessa Berliner

If Northeastern’s Game Demo Day wanted to adopt an offi­cial slogan, “Do you want to play?” should be con­sid­ered the heavy favorite.

That phrase could be heard throughout Thursday evening’s event at the Curry Stu­dent Center Ball­room, as stu­dents encour­aged guests to try out the card, board, and video games they had designed.

Twenty-​​four games designed by North­eastern students—some by indi­vid­uals, some in groups—were fea­tured at the event, which was pre­sented by Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design, Playable Inno­v­a­tive Tech­nolo­gies Lab, and the North­eastern Center for the Arts.

Susan Gold, Pro­fessor of the Prac­tice and asso­ciate director of Northeastern’s Game Design pro­gram, cred­ited the hard work of the event’s orga­nizing team for helping make this oppor­tu­nity avail­able to game design stu­dents. “I know these stu­dents are really excited about sharing their cre­ations with the com­mu­nity,” Gold said.

One of them is a com­puter game called Snow­fall cre­ated by William Man­ning, AMD’16, for the Oculus Rift, a vir­tual reality headset for 3-​​D gaming. The game’s goal is to climb up a moun­tain while large snow­balls are falling down in the user’s path. When using the headset, it looks like the snow­balls are falling right on top of you.

I wanted to create a game that really uti­lizes the depth and move­ment that the Rift offers,” said Man­ning, who has been designing games since he was 13 years old.

Man­ning said he and a friend designed the game game during a 48-​​hour inter­na­tional game jam, an event that brings game devel­opers together to create one or more games in a spe­cific period of time. North­eastern hosted its own Global Game Jam in January.

On the other side of the Ball­room, a team of six North­eastern stu­dents showed off a text-​​based game, called Pres­sion, which they devel­oped for a nar­ra­tive class. Using text char­ac­ters, the game’s out­come is based on a player’s response to prompts. Tessa Berliner, AMD’17, said the team wanted its game to focus on the sto­ry­line, noting that “we felt this was the best way to show the story.”

Two games swept the four awards voted on by atten­dees. Life­like, a role-​​playing game cre­ated for a senior cap­stone project, won best overall game and best art direc­tion. Super Robo Task Force, took home two awards—one for best inno­v­a­tive game, the other for game with the greatest potential.

The event’s keynote speaker was Warren Spector, a role-​​playing game designer and video game designer who has worked in the industry for 30 years, designing games such as System Shock and Deus Ex.

Spector, now the director of the Uni­ver­sity of Texas at Austin’s ‎gaming academy, is in the midst of a country-​​wide tour of uni­ver­si­ties with game design pro­grams to learn about best prac­tices and check out the inno­v­a­tive games stu­dents have produced.

I love talking directly to the stu­dents, and North­eastern has some really good ones,” said Spector, who met with stu­dents for about two hours before Game Demo Day kicked off. “My favorite part is to be able to play their games with them. The stu­dents’ energy and enthu­siasm is great.”

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