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Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo

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[caption id="attachment_10066" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Computer science students participate in GameJam, a coding competition.[/caption]

By Brecken Mumford | Echo

The Computer Science and Engineering Department is buzzing in preparation for GameJam: a friendly game-designing contest that started yesterday and will continue through Nov. 14.

The theme, Survive, was picked by approximately 30 participating students and a handful of faculty overseers. Teams worked tirelessly until Euler closes attempting to solidify a game plan, literally.

"When we start, you can do everything except coding," faculty sponsor Jon Denning said. "So, you can think through how is the theme going to come through and work in the game, what are the characters going to be like, how are you going to move through the game . . . and then Friday at six you can start coding."

The GameJam will reopen for design and coding at 6 p.m. today, stop again when Euler closes at 2 a.m., then reopens at 6 a.m. The competition ends at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday. The teams are racing against the clock to create a video game from scratch. However, students are allowed to use gaming engines to help with music, sound effects and general design.

The tradition began at Taylor last fall when sophomore David Nurkkala approached Jon Denning about a possible coding competition for Taylor students.

The two worked together to create the event and launched it in fall 2014 with approximately 15 students participating. They hosted another one in spring 2015 with about 20 students in attendance. So, they decided to go for another year-with some changes. Denning said this year's goal is to aim for more of a learning experience for the students involved.

"I've learned a lot about making games from the last GameJam and I've also learned how creative and ingenious other people are, even when you least expect it, " Nurkkala said.

Also, this year there will be a panel of non-student judges to determine the winner. The prize is a full color, 3 inch tall 3D-printed trophy of a monkey.

The monkey is an attempt to rekindle a CompSci tall-tale from when the department was located in the basement of Nussbaum. A tradition that started in the '80s with a stuffed monkey found in the parking lot, dubbed "The Dungeon Monkey."

"That particular tradition has died down," Denning said. "We're trying to bring it back so even though we're not in the dungeon anymore, we'd still like to have our own, unofficial mascot as the trophy."

GameJam was designed to encourage students to delve into learning as well as create a fun-yet-competitive atmosphere. Even though registration is closed, anyone is welcome to drop in and encourage their fellow classmates or come to learn more about game design. The department is anticipating hosting another GameJam in the spring semester.

Once the winners have been decided, all games from this fall and last spring will be available to play and download at