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Morrisville State College alums among aspiring game designers participating in 2012 Global Game Jam Jan. 27-29

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Ken Stokes is pretty excited about making the four-hour plus trek from Connecticut to Morrisville State College at the end of the month.

The 2010 alum is eager to return to his alma mater to participate, along with thousands of others from all over the world, in the 2012 International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Global Game Jam (GGJ) Jan. 27-29. This is the third year Morrisville State College is serving as a host site for the international event, now in its fourth year.

Shawn Tysco, of Cazenovia, John Fecteau, of Syracuse, Ben Landers, of Oneonta, and David Verro, of Peterboro, are also coming back to campus for the worldwide Game Jam where teams of artists, hobbyists, programmers, designers and musicians collaborate to create playable video games throughout the course of one weekend.

More than 3,400 jammers from 44 countries have registered for the event so far. Morrisville is one of five sites in New York state hosting the 48-hour event.
 
Amateurs, professionals, students, faculty, hobbyists and those with a passion for making games, are invited to participate at the Morrisville site. Registration is now being accepted. Participants must be 18 years old or older.
Meals, snacks and beverages will be provided throughout the weekend, including Mountain Dew, which has become a site staple.

Dr. Richard Marcoux, assistant professor in Morrisville State College’s Computer Information Technologies Department who is organizing the event, estimates that last year’s participants consumed a whopping eight cases of the popular drink, while pizza and food from Seneca Dining Hall on campus, also helped fuel their creativity. 

The chance to explore creativity, tout inventiveness and let their imaginations roam is only part of the thrill for this year’s Game Jam participants.

“I will always return just catch up with alums and meet the new students,” said Tysco, a 2010 graduate of the college’s information technology: application software development bachelor degree program, and Web developer at Morrisville State College.

Stokes is just as eager to meet up with old friends and professors, but the information technology: application software development bachelor degree graduate also wants to brush up on his design skills and to be a part of something that kindles his avid video gaming interests.

“I always enjoy a good challenge, as well as working on anything that has to do with games,” he said. “Games have always been a focal point in my life, and as such I love anything to do with them, whether it be designing or playing them.”

A software testing consultant for Qualitest in Fairfield, Conn., Stokes first participated in the Game Jam two years ago when he was a student.

“It was a good bonding experience, as you have to interact with team members,” he said. “We had seven people on the team, so we had to constantly check to see how things were going with others so we could put everything together correctly.

His team devised a video game called “Traps the Spanish Adventurer,” a platformer game where players tried to get to the end of the level by avoiding traps consisting of floors that killed players instantly, invisible spikes, and pits.

Stokes was a programmer for that game and designed how the character was controlled.

“This year, I’m looking forward to offering my services to any team that needs a programmer or someone who just has expertise in game design,” he said.

While some participants are going into the event without a plan, others have strategies.

“I may possibly follow through developing a game that we originally planned (in a past Game Jam) due to the difficult timeframe,” Tysco said. “The short amount of time given really touches on project management and time management skills.”

In the end, Game Jam is all about taking home the experience.

“At the finish I look forward to showing the game to others and seeing their experiences with it, what went right and what went wrong,” Stokes said. “I can look at everyone else’s games, which is pretty nice as a lot of other teams do a good job as well, and it lets us see how they completed their objectives compared to how we did.” 

Participants are asked to meet at the college on Friday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. At that time, they will be given a theme, break into teams which will be formed on-site, then spend the weekend designing a new game from scratch without any outside help.

Each team will have until 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29 to create its game. The event will be held in classrooms on the second floor of Charlton Hall. Local jurors will play all the games and at 5 p.m., each team will present its game to all participants. Each local site will announce what team best embodies the spirit of the jam.

Game Jam 2011 produced more than 1,500 games from more than 6,500 participants in more than 44 countries. Results are judged by industry professionals. All finished GGJ games will be archived onto a Game Jam website for everyone to play.

“We hope to see many new and old faces joining us in this fourth edition of the Global Game Jam,” GGJ director Zuraida Buter, said. “It is always fantastic to see the excitement build up, culminating in an explosion of jam happiness and fantastic games.”

For more information or to register to participate at the Morrisville State College game jam site, go to www.morrisville.edu/gamejam, call Professor Marcoux at 684-6788 or e-mail him at marcourp@morrisville.edu.
Game Jam at Morrisville State College was made possible through an Enitiative Grant received by Marcoux.

Enitiative, funded by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, focuses on entrepreneurship in the arts, technology and neighborhoods, with the goal of creating a culture of entrepreneurship to improve the economic climate in Central New York.

Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Community Service Honor Roll. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.

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