Big dreams compete with little time at Game Jam 2019

By Emily Pawlowski | April 25, 2019

Ported from an Echo article by Emily Pawlowski

Twenty-four hours is not a lot of time. But for 20 students, it is just enough to create a video game.

Eight teams competed in the 2019 spring Game Jam. They had from April 4 - 6 to find out the theme, design the levels and program a working game.

“Doing Game Jam is really cool because you challenge yourself to be able to set aside a ton of time to actually make a thing,” senior Edric Yu said. “Just doing that forces you to learn a lot of things in a short amount of time.”

This semester’s theme was “heist.” Game plots included everything to breaking into vaults to stealing enemy plans in a mechanical war.

The winner of this semester’s competition was “Bad Guy Simulator: The Heist,” by Edric Yu, Ryan Jones and Noah Lindsey. Second place was “Gone Rogue,” by Zach Winters and Connor Salter, and third place went to “Mech Heist,” by David Nurkkala.

Three superlative awards were also given out. Best Innovation went to “Heist,” by Scotti Bozarth, Alex Wardlow and Robert Swanson. “Man in the Van,” by Luke Brom, Tim Ours, Imani Muya and Caitlin Gaff, won both Best Writing and Best Art.

“The results are, every year they always get better,” Jon Denning, department co-chair and assistant professor of computer science and engineering said. “The games mature, the developers get better over time, so they know what are the important things to nail down first, so that you can have a solid game to kind of build off of.”

That development of experience was one benefit many participants sought. Teamwork encouraged students to work on their communication skills and to teach each other new techniques.

Teams were also encouraged to interact and test each other’s games.

“It was fun looking at everyone else’s games, because there were some pretty cool games out there,” freshman Tim Swanson said. “It gave a lot of inspiration for things I could do and also a lot of knowledge as to what I could do in the future that would be different from what they did.”

Game Jam is held each semester at Taylor, including a special session during J-term.

Students of all levels of programming experience are invited to form teams and compete. Each team can only have a maximum of two programmers, but additional students can help with other aspects of the game.

“I think people should do it even if they don’t have coding experience as teams need people to make like music, the graphics, the stories; there are places for people even if they can’t code,” Swanson said.

More information about Game Jam is available online at gamejam.cse.taylor.edu.