Got Game?

Mass DiGI taps students’ game development skills

August 12, 2014
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One moment you’re swatting flies, the next you’re spinning records – and at any other time you could be flying a plane, making a sock puppet sing, or simply washing a window.

WPI students Sienna McDowell, Pat Roughan, and Owen West, along with students from other local colleges, were tasked with creating fully functional games in 11 weeks, as part of the annual MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program.Successfully achieve these various tasks, and you win virtual capsule toys (like the sort that come tumbling out of coin-op machines).

Such is the simple but addictive premise of Many Mini Things, a motion-controlled game created by students from WPI and other local colleges as part of the annual MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program.

“It’s funny, zany humor,” says lead producer Pat Roughan ’15. “It turns mundane stuff into a fun game.”

The prestigious program, which challenges its student participants to create a fully functional game in 11 weeks, was held at Becker College from May 20 to Aug. 7, culminating with an open house at the school’s Weller Academic Center.

Twenty-two students from 11 schools – including Roughan, Owen West ’15, and Sienna McDowell ’17 – were chosen from a pool of 150 applicants. As they broke into groups and worked on creating four games, they were housed at Becker and given a stipend for their work.

“It was our literal job for 11 weeks straight,” said Roughan, a double major in game design and professional writing. Unlike during the school year, “we had no other distractions.”

Several game ideas were brainstormed during orientation, she explained, then four were ultimately chosen and participants were split into groups based on their strengths. Drafting, designing, building, and numerous rounds of testing followed.

I can pretty easily build upon the skills I learned this summer.
Owen West

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