March 22, 2023

For five students in WPI’s Interactive Media and Game Design (IMGD) department, last month’s JoyArt event, an intercollegiate game art competition, was not only an experience of a lifetime—it was one they created themselves. The event, an evening in Boston that brought together student artists from a dozen colleges and universities across New England as well as professional game artists from studios in the area, was a just an idea before Tate Donnelly, Yulin Chen, Skye Pritchard, Jack McEvoy, and Nick Frangie—all Class of ’24—made it a reality as part of their Interactive Qualifying Project.

“Launching a new event specifically for game artists was something we felt strongly about,” said Donnelly.  “There is so much artistic talent in the gaming world right here in the Northeast, it just made sense to celebrate, collaborate, and have some friendly competition.”

Working with their IQP advisor IMGD Assistant Teaching Professor Melissa Kagen, as well as with MassDigi Managing Director Monty Sharma, the team managed every aspect of the event, including securing sponsorship, building a website, figuring out logistics, inviting attendees, and running the event itself.  


judges review submissions

In total, the event attracted over 200 submissions from students at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Montserrat College of Art, Lesley University, University of Connecticut, University of Hartford, New England Institute of Technology, Clark University, Northeastern University, Fitchburg State University, Massachusetts College of Art, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and, of course, WPI.

The competition portion featured eight categories and were judged by representatives from Demiurge Studios, Designori, Snoozy Kazoo, Zapdot, PopCannibal, Mightier, and Dejobaan Games.  (Winners are listed below.) The professionals also offered portfolio reviews.

“Like everyone else, I was so impressed by the event and by the quality and creativity of the artists involved in the competition,” said Richard Fox, art manager at Demiurge Studios. “We can’t wait to see what 2024 brings.”

“They pulled it off,” said Kagen. “The team did a great job with this first year of JoyArt, especially the way they reached out to artists and schools from across the area. I'm looking forward to seeing where they go from here!”

The team plans to make JoyArt an annual event and is excited to incorporate what they learned this year into next year’s event.

Meanwhile, if you think the IQP team is resting on its laurels after its inaugural JoyArt, that’s not the case. “We're not done yet,” said Frangie. “Our team will be managing WPI IMGD's booth at PAX East later this month, exhibiting student games at the massive expo hosted in the Boston convention center. And after that, we'll be hosting IMGD Showfest in the Innovation Studio on April 28, showing off what IMGD students have been up to this year. We hope to see everyone on campus there.” 

JoyArt Winners

  • Overall Winner: MacKenzie Reid, RISD
  • People’s Choice: Mackenzie Reynolds, Lesley University
  • Pixel Art: Kateri Bajer, WPI
  • In-game Implementation: Kateri Bajer, WPI
  • 3D Animation: Kerri Thornton, WPI
  • Character Concept Art: Tony Tran, Fitchburg State
  • Environmental Concept Art: Brooke Glasier, Northeastern University
  • 3D Character Art: Maya Horta from Montserrat 
  • 3D Environment & Prop Art: Jericho Dibb from MassArt
  • 2D Animation: Adam Ying, RISD

JoyArt awardees