Flash Frozen, a video game developed by a class of a dozen UW-Stout game design and development students, was declared national co-champion at the Entertainment Software Association’s E3 conference in Los Angeles on June 13. Sixty games from schools across the country were entered into the College Game Competition, which was judged by some of the world’s leading game design professionals at the expo, the premier event in the video and computer gaming industry. The UW-Stout entry tied with Lost In Thought, which was created by students from the Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design. Flash Frozen, which was created in Stout’s Senior 3D Game Design class, is described as a survival horror game in which players must endure dangerous environments and freezing temperatures while trying to escape a broken-down ship. Oh, and did we mention ship is haunted? (To learn more about the game and to check out a trailer, visit flashfrozengame.com.) The expo gave the 12 students and two professors who created Flash Frozen an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the bigwigs in the industry and to meet the next generation of gaming superstars. According to the ESA, the expo drew more than 48,000 video game professionals, investor, journalists, and retailers from more than 100 countries. The victory is a big step for UW-Stout’s new game design program. “It’s a remarkable milestone for Flash Frozen to win the national title and be created by students from a program that is only four years old,” said program director Diane Christie. Even before the competition, UW-Stout’s game design and development program was already making a name for itself: Earlier this year, the Princeton Review ranked it among the top 30 video game programs in the U.S. and Canada.
Note: this article was originally published in November, 2010.
Sometime in the spacey 60s, sections of a steel rocket arrived in Carson Park from one of the big shot playground vendors at the time. When it was originally assembled, it had two slides – one departing from an upper level and one from a lower, according to then-Superintendent of Parks & Recreation Phil Johnson. It was 25 feet tall.
The “mid-to-late 80s” saw the first step in the rocket slide’s eventual demise, as the lower slide was taken out due to a structural problem. “The Consumer Products Safety Commission was developing guidelines that initially kicked evaluations of playgrounds into gear,” said Johnson of the era. The remaining slide, high and mighty as it was, was clearly doomed: its rails were a thin three inches compared to the now-standard six. “There was no entrance platform for the slide,” added Johnson. “No rail to hold onto. It was rusted out where it was interfaced with the platform … you could wiggle it.” So they closed off the opening with more vertical steel bars, and it stood as a bare rocket (on a spot of grass isolated from the rest of the playground equipment) for another two years, but the community sensed its fate. “I’d get calls periodically saying, ‘don’t take the rocket down!’ ” said Johnson. At the same time, the city was concerned it wasn’t being used for its intended purposes (or age group). “It wasn’t a play structure anymore … just a monument to our own youth.” The safety violations were now numerous: the vertical climber offered no “protection” around its openings, and you could drop down to the ground from the towering top level.
So in 1994 to 1995, when it came time to re-grade and reestablish that site to accommodate events, the old metal monster was humbly retired. “We gave it to Max Phillips – a metal salvage/recycling place,” said Johnson. “Individuals, schools, churches were asking for it, but morally, we couldn’t sell it. If it’s not good enough for the public, why pass it on if it’d pose the same risks?” At the same time, he acknowledges, “Of all the pieces of equipment, the rocket had the most memories associated with it … a lot of the play value went away with the new guidelines.
Continue reading for some of your rocket memories!
That’s right, this week the Legislative Joint Finance Committee voted to eliminate Wisconsin’s Film Production Services and Investment Credit. Got that? Good. The tax credit was originally put in place to benefit the statewide film, commercial, television, and video game industry.
Film Wisconsin, a non-profit whose aim was to grow the arts economy in Wisconsin, played a major role in putting these incentives in place in 2006. Among these incentives was a 25% tax credit on certain wages, salary and production costs as well as 15% on the purchase of personal property and items and the amount spent on purchasing, constructing or remodeling property. Before the cut the incentive program totaled $500,000.
It seems that these incentives were cut simply due to infrequent use, which may be linked to their high accreditation requirements. In order for a film, video, or broadcast advertisement to have been accredited it must have exceeded $50,000 in production costs in a 12-month period, and $100,000 for electronic games in a 36-month period.
So, I guess don’t expect there to be a sequel to Public Enemies any time soon, or at least not one filmed in Wisconsin. But if you want to help out, perhaps a call to the state legislators or the Governor’s office might help keep these incentives going.