By Joe O’Connell
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.”