Get’Cha Head in the Game

UW-Stout designers to display games for public

Lea Kopke

GET YOUR GAME ON, GO PLAY.  Students try a game at a 2017 Stout Game Expo. Students receive feedback from players and learn how to improve their design skills.
GET YOUR GAME ON, GO PLAY. Students try a game at a 2017 Stout Game Expo. Students receive feedback from players and learn how to improve their design skills.

After spending weeks upon weeks creating and perfecting their games, more than 60 groups of UW-Stout game design students will showcase  their work at the Stout Game Expo. at 6-9pm on May 2 at the MSC Great Hall and Ballrooms.

The expo, which began in 2010, gives game design students the chance to present the games they have been working on throughout the semester, either in their classes or independently. The public will have the chance to play and give feedback on the student’s games, and then vote for various award categories.

Diane Christie, one of SGX’s directors and a professor at UW-Stout, said the point of the festival is to give students a chance to show off their games and receive valuable feedback that they can take into the next games they build.

“In game design, students are learning to develop their games for players,” Christie said, “and then at SGX they’re getting a good look at how players receive their games and gaining feedback for the improvement of their next game.”

Christina Miller, a third-year computer science video game development student, is a part of the team that is putting together SGX. From her past experiences entering games into the expo, she said she has learned valuable lessons about working as a team and learning from her mistakes.

“Even if you think you know the best way, there’s probably an easier way,” Miller said. “It helps you to learn from both the mistakes you’ve made and the people you’re working with.”

In addition to helping set up SGX, Miller will also display a game she worked to create. Her group’s game, she said, revolved around a small cat being chased by enemies. Miller said by the time of the expo, the group will have been working on the game for nine weeks.

For Vanessa Hillary, a fourth-year computer science game design student, this year’s SGX marks the third time she has participated in the expo. Hillary’s group is presenting a game called “Coping Device,” where the player goes through the game as a character named Leylo who suffers from a panic attack after accidentally deleting her school project.

“It’s all a metaphor for how panic attacks feel,” Hillary said, “to help create empathy for those who don’t experience them.”

While her own games have yet to win an award at the expo, Hillary believes SGX is a great chance to not only improve, but also to show the public the values games can have in educating people about important topics.

“I think it’s more than just playing games and making games,” Hillary said. “It’s a whole experience where you learn and grow and develop skills you wouldn’t have had in the past. There’s value in learning more about how games can be more than just a fun pastime – you can create learning experiences.”

The Stout Game Expo will take place 6-9pm on Thursday, May 2, in the Great Hall and Ballrooms inside the Memorial Student Center at UW-Stout. Admission is free to the public.