WORCESTER, Mass. – Three first-year Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students have won high recognition for their video game creation Super Munch 2 Turbo, which was entered earlier this year into the Massachusetts Game Challenge (MGC), sponsored by 38 Studios, the video game development company Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling founded in 2006. An awards ceremony was held on April 29 at the company's Maynard, Mass. headquarters. The students – Morgan Quirk, 18, of Acton, Mass.; Andrew Tremblay, 19, of Hingham, Mass.; and Adrian Mejia, 18, of Quito, Ecuador – all Interactive Media & Game Development (IMGD) majors – each won $1,000 for their game.
"Our goal was to make the Massachusetts Game Challenge a fun and challenging way to energize local game development students to show off their talent and gain recognition, and the WPI team really shined," said Brett Close, president and CEO of 38 Studios. "The quality and depth of their design exceeded our expectations, particularly coming from first-year students. They've set the bar pretty high for what we'd like to see from them as juniors and seniors in upcoming challenges. An added bonus from WPI was an incredibly helpful GameJam event, organized by their IMGD program. 38 Studios greatly appreciates WPI's support of its game design student mission."
The students' collaboration on Super Munch 2 Turbo started in January 2008, when WPI's Game Development Club held a 38-hour GameJam on campus for aspiring video game developers. During GameJam, student teams worked together to create video games in a three-day marathon session – however, Quirk, Tremblay, and Mejia focused far more hours beyond GameJam's 38-hour limit to develop the project. Participants had the option of entering the game they created at WPI to the first annual MGC, launched in December 2007. The MGC invited teams of two to three students from New England-area colleges and universities to show off their talents in the one-of-a-kind video game design contest featuring the 38 Studios mascot Munch, and his alter ego, Mean Munch.
Players of Super Munch 2 Turbo switch between Munch and Mean Munch to navigate a world full of food-based enemies. Walking chicken legs, flying carrots, and deadly pits of acid bar your path to victory. Munch can consume his enemies. Mean Munch jumps higher and can dash for even further distance. The game was chosen as a winner, according to 38 Studios, because, backed by groovy music and catchy sound effects, it shows a lot of potential and is an impressive creation for the allotted timeframe.
"We are tremendously excited about being recognized by a legitimate game company for a game that we worked so hard at creating," said Tremblay on behalf of his team. "Not that it was work to us, mind you; we had a blast doing it. With this now being an annual challenge, our team will be back next year with three times the amount of effort and ideas."
WPI launched it first-in-the-nation IMGD program three years ago, and Schilling serves as a member of its advisory board. The four-year undergraduate program blends both the artistic and technical aspects of game creation. Students receive a base education in both the artistic (art, music, and story), and technical (programming) aspects, and then select an artistic or technical concentration as the focus for the remainder of their program. They are also required to study social and philosophical issues associated with games and related media. The IMGD major (www.imgd.wpi.edu) is administered by WPI's computer science and humanities and arts departments.
"The WPI team's result bodes very well for both the game development community in Massachusetts as well for the university's program in particular," said Robert W. Lindeman, assistant professor of computer science, and IMGD faculty member. "The WPI team members are all first-year students who have so far taken only two of the courses in our four-year program. I am very proud of, though not surprised by, the performance this tremendously talented team."
"I have to applaud 38 Studios for its support of the development of local game talent," Lindeman added. "Efforts like the Massachusetts Game Challenge provide a real-world framework for students to design and deliver playable content, and receive recognition for their work. We were very happy to support this effort with the 38-hour GameJam at WPI, and plan to make GameJam an annual event at the university."
About 38 Studios
38 Studios, a media and entertainment company founded in 2006 by Curt Schilling and based in Maynard, Mass., is in pre-production on an original fantasy IP driven by the creative and artistic visions of pop culture icons R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane. Entertainment products will include a massively immersive online entertainment experience that transcends the traditional MMO genre, novels, comics, toys, movies, TV, and more.