Students created video games in 48 hours at Chillennium 2016

André Thomas

 

Check the Chillennium Facebook page for more event photos.

More than 200 students from 12 universities created video games from scratch in just 48 hours at Chillennium 2016, a game-building competition, or “game jam,” Sept. 23-25, 2016 hosted by the Texas A&M Department of Visualization.

At the third-annual event, which took place at the Texas A&M Hildebrand Equine Complex, students majoring in visualization, computer science, engineering and a wide variety of additional disciplines competed for prizes including highly sought after licenses for high-powered, professional-grade gaming software.

“This year’s event attracted more competitors and sponsors than ever before,” said André Thomas, who teaches Texas A&M visualization classes in game development and founded the university’s Learning Interactive Visualizations Experience Lab, a game development hub at the university.

Thomas, the event’s faculty supervisor, headed a small group of students, some of them veterans of previous Texas A&M game jams, who worked with event caterers, university staff, sponsors and contestants to host the event, the largest student-run game jam in North America.

In addition to students from Texas A&M, registered contestants hailed from far-flung locales including Ohio State, West Virginia University and several Texas schools, including the University of Texas at El Paso, Baylor and Texas State University.

After learning Chillennium’s theme, foofaraw — a great deal of fuss or attention given to a minor matter —  contestants, fueled by contest-provided meals, snacks and an onsite, staffed sleeping area, raced to meet a 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25 deadline to develop desktop-based games.

 

 

“This year’s event attracted more competitors and sponsors than ever before,” said André Thomas, who teaches Texas A&M visualization classes in game development and founded the university’s Learning Interactive Visualizations Experience Lab, a game development hub at the university.

Thomas, the event’s faculty supervisor, headed a small group of students, some of them veterans of previous Texas A&M game jams, who worked with event caterers, university staff, sponsors and contestants to host the event, the largest student-run game jam in North America.

In addition to students from Texas A&M, registered contestants hailed from far-flung locales including Ohio State, West Virginia University and several Texas schools, including the University of Texas at El Paso, Baylor and Texas State University.

After learning Chillennium’s theme, foofaraw — a great deal of fuss or attention given to a minor matter —  contestants, fueled by contest-provided meals, snacks and an onsite, staffed sleeping area, raced to meet a 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25 deadline to develop desktop-based games.

Working alone or in teams of up to four participants, students developed games with hardware they brought to the contest and software or programming languages available online or already on their computers.

As the event progressed, industry professionals roamed the Chillennium floor, offering contestants game development advice and networking opportunities.

Several prominent names in game design, including UnityHoudini and Boss Fight Entertainmentsponsored this year's event. One of the event's sponsors, Alienware, demonstrated its acclaimed video game hardware in an onsite mobile unit. 

At Chillennium’s conclusion, industry professionals, event sponsors and game players age 10 and up played and ranked the games for their innovation, quality, and completeness in programming, art, design and sound catergories.

A team from the University of Texas at Dallas captured top honors, and two teams from Texas A&M earned second and third place honors.

In the UT-Dallas students' game, "Don't Rock the Boat,"  a playear is a server on a cruise ship in rough seas who must keep thirsty passengers refreshed despite dangerous working conditions.

The Texas A&M students' games and the rest of the Chillennium entries are also available online.

In addition to providing a fun opportunity for students to learn about creating video games, Chillennium is helping to establish Texas A&M as a nationally known mecca for game design, said Cameron Coker, a Master of Fine Arts in Visualization student.

The university’s rising prominence in the field was reflected in spring 2016 lists published by the Princeton Review, a leading test preparation and college admission services company.

Texas A&M’s game design programs ranked 14th among graduate schools in 2016, up from 22nd in 2015. Among public schools in the list, Texas A&M ranked 8th.

The university’s undergraduate game design program debuted in this year’s rankings at number 38.

posted September 7, 2016