Innovative, student-designed video games were showcased to the world on April 23 at the semi-annual student Game Expo at Florida Polytechnic University.
For the first time, the expo featured a server that allowed viewers across the internet to log in and play networked student games with one another.
“It’s always been a dream to have world-facing games,” said Dr. Bradford Towle, chair of Florida Poly’s Computer Science Department and a professor of the game design and development courses. “One of our goals was to have network-integrated games and this semester actually we’re able to have people play online games from Florida Poly students from a server.”
The event remained virtual this semester and featured live discussion of each of the dozens of games broadcast from the University's Simulation, Instruction, and Media Lab. Thousands of high school students from across Florida were invited to tune in, check out the games, and provide feedback. The top ranked games in categories such as visuals, audio, creativity, and gameplay will be announced on the Game Expo website.
Senior Luke Mirman helped organize the event and was excited to have his multiplayer game, “A Day at the Races,” available on the server. The game, which he created with senior computer science major Evan Nave, is about corgi dog races and tasks players with giving their dogs commands in the race.
“It’s a little scary at times,” said Mirman, a Game Design 2 student and computer science major. “You want to make the best game possible, but you sort of reflect on what you made and always find things that can be improved.”
In addition to the new networked gameplay component, this semester’s game expo also introduced an online scavenger hunt available to Florida Poly students and employees who competed for prizes such as a gaming controller or gaming mouse pad.
“We are working to increase the interaction with the students watching and the expo,” said Dr. Doga Demirel, an event organizer and assistant professor of computer science.
He said the quality of student game submissions is very high.
“These students in a short amount of time create some very creative games,” Demirel said. “For the Game Design and Development 2 students, this is similar to their capstone project; everything they have learned in their concentration now comes together and they have a multiplayer game.”
For computer science junior Gabrielle Tristani, who created the single-player game “Orbits,” the event was a chance to showcase her talents in a very public way.
“I am very excited to get the chance to present it,” said Tristani, from Baltimore, Maryland. “It is something I worked very hard at and put a lot of thought into. I hope people enjoy it.”
As future game expos begin to return to an in-person environment, event organizers said they expect some of the innovative online elements to remain.
“By going virtual, we found new and unique ways to showcase the students and their work to reach more people and share what Florida Poly students have to offer the community,” said Christian Navarro, an event organizer and computer science instructor.
The unique event does far more than provide a way for the burgeoning game developers to share their talent, Navarro said.
“Communication is so important to employers these days,” he said. “With the game expo, students get to work on their verbal communication with their elevator pitch and they also have something strong they can include in their portfolio.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the location of the event broadcast.
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