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Gaming event puts students to the test

Global Game Jam challenges students to create video games within 48 hours

phpto by Sierra High / Photo Editor

Senior Cole Luther presents his team’s video game, B***hin’ Pigeon, at the 2017 Global Game Jam with team members senior Sam Franzen, back left, and UW-W alumnus Derek Beck, forward left.

Brad Allen and Ashe McDarison

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Famed inventors hurling destructive sound waves at one another, defending a precious flower from endless waves of enemies, using deadly brain waves to take down countless foes. These are three of many video games designed by UW-Whitewater students in the 2017 Global Game Jam.

The Global Game Jam is a three-day annual worldwide event in which college students gather to design their own video games within 48 hours and present their creations to other participants on the third day.

The theme for this year was “Waves.”

This year, the event took place from Jan. 20 through Jan. 22. The local participants gathered in Room 127 of McGraw Hall at 5 p.m. Friday, and many remained through Sunday evening.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to practice the concepts and techniques of designing video games and applying these skills to create something as a team,” said Nick Hwang, host of the event and UW-W Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Game Design (MAGD). “It’s an odd way to test their skill in a short amount of time.”


There are sometimes extra rules called “Diversifiers” set for participants to adhere to, such as one previous year in which all video games were required to not use violence.

The event was sponsored by Casual Joe’s and the SweetSpot Café, both of which catered to the event, as well as by former participant and UW-W alumnus Brian Holman, who owns a local video game design company, Lexxicon Studios.

Alumnus Christina Quinlan participated, despite graduating last year with a degree in MAGD.

“I wanted to see what everyone else is doing and to get fresh ideas,” Quinlan said. “I needed inspiration for my own work.”

This past weekend was her third time participating in the Global Game Jam.

“The Global Game Jam can be aggravating at times, but it’s worth it in the end,” Quinlan said.

There are no winners or losers in the Global Game Jam, Hwang said.

“It’s not a competition, because it focuses on the overall process of designing video games and exercising those skills.”

One game featured a penguin with a bomb strapped to its back chasing the player through the level of obstacles, such as ocean waves.

One participating team designed a game that challenged players to use various defensive techniques to protect a flower from multiple incoming groups or “waves” of enemies.

Another team went for an eccentric feel, creating a video game in which Nicola Tesla played an electric guitar which shot out dangerous musical waves. Thomas Edison, controlled by players, needed to find vulnerable frequency waves in order to defeat Tesla and beat the game.

Although the event mainly involves designing video games, it is open to all students. Many teams incorporate other skills into the designing process such as writing scripts or recording musical soundtracks and various sound effects.

“I encourage people to be a part of the event,” Hwang said. “It’s a great way to experiment with something that involves more than just design.”

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The student news site of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
Gaming event puts students to the test